There are plenty of healthy forces in this nation. Below the surface, away from the limelight, far away from the headlines, great forces are at work within our people.
Those who feast on breaking news and newspaper headlines may think that all is terrible around here and that everyone is a murderer or a thief; as though everything is evil, despicable, cynical and alienated. However, those who live amid this special people know that below the veneer hide immense forces of mercy, kindness and goodness.
Those who toured Jerusalem in recent days, or more accurately in recent nights, especially near the Kotel, could not but be moved by the tens of thousands of Jews arriving there: Ranging from military units to young children, from longtime citizens to new immigrants. Members of all ages, ethnic groups, religious streams, professions and styles gather every night near the Temple’s remnants.
Yet while every caprice or minor event in Tel Aviv is given major headlines, the tens of thousands at the Kotel every night are barely mentioned. Tens of thousands of people, who arrive in order to connect, communicate, safeguard their heritage and tradition, pray and reinforce their identity based on a deep, inner Jewish instinct, out of a desire to connect to something eternal, significant and spiritual.
Moreover, each one of us hears stories here and there and discovers how much mercy there is around here. I am driven by a typical Israeli taxi driver, who tells me that he makes sure to offer at least one free ride every day. He seeks out an elderly man or woman at poor neighborhoods and offers them a ride.
A million such stories
You go over to some kiosk to buy falafel and while you’re at it the seller tells you that he feeds several passersby every day; people who appear hungry and poor. You also hear about commanders who instead of taking time off visit their lone or poor soldiers and fill their fridge with food, or host them, or arrange medical care for them.
You hear about doctors who arrive at the hospital at night, on their free time, in order to see how a patient in pain is doing. You hear about mechanics who turned their garages into a warehouse for food distribution to the poor. You hear a million such stories. Everyone knows them. These people are all around us all the time.
Suddenly you realize how much genuine goodness exists in this people. Indeed, this simple, natural goodness has no rating and it is indeed easier to produce headlines about murder and violence than about mercy and giving – yet on the occasion of Rosh Hashana, when we seek to be judged favorably, we must first say favorable things about the people of Israel.
We are not an easy nation. This was already discovered by God and Moses, when they discussed the stubborn, opinionated people we were. However, no other nation has such strength of character and natural, Jewish health like our own, with so much mercy, caring, and a desire to change.
This people is not about violent, hate-filled talkbackers who overwhelm websites with crude responses of verbal violence. This people is about the righteous cab driver, the righteous doctor, the righteous commander, and the righteous mechanic – a collection of righteous people who make up the core, strength, depth and power of this nation.
One can click his tongue, respond cynically, make harsh comments and keep looking for drawbacks and flaws. I have pity for those who take pleasure in insulting their friends, attacking, reprimanding, criticizing, and spreading evil and hatred. At this time, we can stand proud and amazed in the face of the immense powers of soul, mercy and goodness found within our nation, and know that thanks to them we shall face any test.
So Shana Tova, Ktiva Tova and Hatima Tova to the nation of righteousness and mercy.
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