With all due respect to the UN, the justification for our statehood was created at the beginning of time, when Abraham “pulled” a number of students who wanted to discover the source of life from the Babylonians.
And so it went on and on, during the long, nerve racking minutes of one winter night in 1947. Finally, the summarizing statement of the American announcer cut the tense silence. “Thirty-three in favor, thirteen against … The proposal was accepted.”
“And then there was dancing and tears, flags appeared, and cars honked as loud as they could, sounds of the Shofar erupted from all the synagogues, Torah scrolls were removed from the Arks, and drifted into the circles of dancing. Bars were still open all over town handing out soft drinks for free until the early hours of the morning. Strangers embraced on the streets and kissed each other, in tears. As we wandered through the circles of the dances, my father said to me “Look at all this very closely my child, because this night, you will not forget until the last days of your life…”” (Amos Oz, A Tale about Love and Darkness)
Indeed, we never forgot that night. Somewhere, in the collective memory of each Israeli that spontaneous singing still echoes as a reminder that it was not “just a dream.” For one short moment, we could feel what it is like to be all together, united as one. More than sixty years of endless wars, internal conflicts and exhausting investigations, it’s hard not to wonder if it ever really happened.
A Fistful of Dreams
Without denouncing any of Israel’s achievements, it can be safely said that we do have a lot to be proud of. Imagine gathering all the hopes and dreams we had that night, and comparing them to contemporary life in Israel, we should ask ourselves, “Have those dreams really come true? Have we become one nation, whole, unified, independent and free? And would anyone be willing to vote for us if a second vote was being held today?”
A deep gap lies between our dreams and reality, indicating that somewhere along the way we really missed the mark. Although we returned to the land of our ancestors after two thousand years of exile and tried to set up a renewed Hebrew culture, this is not enough. More than sixty years have passed and we still cannot find what will turn our momentary joy into something complete and long lasting. And there are even those who claim that the Jewish state has lost its right to exist entirely.
When Abraham “pulled” a number of students who sought to discover the source of life from the Babylonians, together they found the system of how to rise above the ego, and reached a whole new world. That group grew until it became an entire nation whose foundation was mutual love; these were the people of Israel who lived in their country. The realization of the method of Abraham and transferring that method to all of humanity is the only mandate we received from nature superior to ours. This is a mandate both for our existence as a nation and for the country in which we live.
The long years of exile made us forget our spiritual mission. But towards the end of the nineteenth century the Jewish people began to feel a strong urge to return to their country and establish an independent state. At that time, the method of Abraham, Kabbalah, was rediscovered. At this time Baal HaSulam and the Rav Kook, two great Kabbalists of the twentieth century, determined that our national independence is directly dependent on attaining spiritual independence. “As long as we do not raise our goal above the corporeal life ” wrote Baal HaSulam in his article “Exile and Redemption”, “we will have no corporeal revival because the spiritual and the corporeal in us cannot dwell in one basket, for we are the children of the idea.” The meaning of his words is more relevant today than ever: You can not build a society based on egoistic principles, even if it appears that those principles somehow work in other countries. In our case, we returned to Israel to build a society based on brotherly love, and to teach the whole world “how to do it.” This is the only justification for our existence here.
There is hope for love
In Israel, honking cars and singing in the streets can be heard only after an Israeli soccer team wins the European Cup, but let us not despair. On the contrary, this broken reality is our opportunity to build our lives on a foundation which relies on our true nature. It is not too late to revive our spirit. New circles of dances can be built, and this time, around our spiritual ideal. The world is waiting for us to invite them to join the expanding circle of love and to remove the heavy stone that covers a tremendous spring of joy, hidden deep inside.