Rosh Hashana Resolutions

Yaakov Fogelman proposed changes in attitudes which might make for a better 5757-- what is your response in retrospect, in 5758?

You can also read our other studies on this site.

Most of this article appeared in the Jerusalem Post's In Jerusalem supplement-- Religious Life In Jerusalem, Elul 20, 5755, 9/15/95:

How should we respond to Israel today, as the shofar pierces our illusions, our insensitive assumptions and our superficial lifestyle? A few suggestions:

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POLITICS: Studying Judaism does not render me competant to resolve complex political problems-- this requires extensive study of the many factors involved, leaving little time for anything else, and access to secret information. But a few general Jewish principles are relevant:

Israel's leaders must not just be political, economic and military experts; they also, de facto, represent Judaism and Jewish Civilization to the rest of the world. Thus any prime minister, foreign minister, etc. is only qualified if he/she also possesses a good knowledge of, and at least sympathy for, Jewish tradition. Menachem Begin, Zerah Warhaftig and Yosef Burg are good models; Avraham Burg is a decided improvement on ignorant leaders of the left. Motti Elon would make an ideal PM.

All Jews must respect each other's integrity and sincerity, despite sharp disagreement. Widespread internecine hatred can again destroy Israel. Right wingers must not brand Peres & Co. "traitors", as they did to Rabin, accusing them of sacrificing the land of Israel and Jewish security for their Nobel Peace Prize. By the same token, the Left may not label sacrificial settlers and their leaders "enemies of peace", accusing them of putting their comfortable suburban life in the liberated territories above national political and economic interests.

Rabin and Peres's seeming reluctance to force the Palestinians to give up their dream of Israel's destruction, as set down in their covenant, contrasts sharply with Rabin's callous insensitivity to the settlers' dream of greater Israel, whose death he loudly proclaimed, rather than saying that we just have to postpone it for a while. All can and should come together in love and peace on Shabbat, when worldly problems and politics are forbidden subjects, as we experience the eventual perfectly good world of God.

The Right must respect the Left's reasonable desire to pursue peace-- a great mitzva, to finally end our state of war-- the consequences of any future war with modern weapons may be so horrible that to win a war will also be to lose it. Was this Oslo's main aim, rather than to end the intifada, a lesser danger? The Right has no right to take over streets and highways by force, turning others against their cause. They must understand the Arab viewpoint, given that we're not yet the inspiring holy nation we're meant to be, that peace requires compromise with truth, when 2 claim a whole tallit, e.g. Avraham and Avimelech, who make a peace covenant in our Rosh Hashana Torah readings.

So the Left must respect the right's Reasonable conviction that the Arabs are not to be trusted, and that their ultimate aim is still to destroy us all-- why help and encourage them on the way to fulfill their murderous covenant? Why risk our security even further? Why have parts of Israel Judenrein, even if large forces are required to protect a few Jews in a sea of Arabs? Wouldn't the US, as any democracy, do the same for a few Negro families, threatened with violence in a southern white neighborhood? Why not indeed add many Jews to historic Jewish Hevron, while giving its Arabs the maximum autonomy compatible with security? Must Jews be such a small minority in the city of their forefathers' brutal massacre by forefathers of today's Arab Hevronites?

One must understand the enemy's mentality, not just his tactics; there must be some logical connection between Arab behavior and our response. If Hamas zealots are willing to die for their murderous religious beliefs, no punishment will deter them-- only the possibility that their violent actions to expel Israel from Israel will backfire. One such effective deterrent would be the building of 500 Jewish apartments on empty land in the Hevron area for each terrorist attack. Another would be to bury them in pig skins, denying them their dream of a place in heaven, per Islam; the British so stopped moslem terrorism in Sudan.

Besides this stick, we must profer a carrot, for example withdrawal of The Israel Defense Forces from a completely Arab area every 3 months, when NO act of terrorism occurs there, AFTER the Palestinian Covenant is CLEARLY revoked. Should terrorist attacks resume, Tzahal should return to their area of origin.

RELIGION: If radical Islamic religious warfare is the source of our threats, it must be attacked directly, thru, for instance, extensive presentations of moderate Islamic leaders on Israel's Arabic television programs. Perhaps the Sefardi Chief Rabbi should lead an Arabic Ben Noach campaign, teaching Israel's universal religion. Arabs, without becoming Jewish, can join our Jewish dream and mission, not just accept Israel's existence temporarily, out of fear and pragmatism.

This can only work if they see Jews themselves accept Judaism with enthusiasm and treat the Arabs, the strangers in our midst, with great humanity, as commanded by the Torah.

Every yeshiva student should serve in Tzahal and every Israeli soldier should study in a Yeshiva! We should greet every human being with a pleasant expression, respect the good in him, and wish him well. But Jews won't return to their religion, if its leaders are insular and isolated, over-Jewing it, blind to the accomplishments and values of all religions and cultures, often taken from the O.T. (Only Testament).

Similarly, religious coercion is obviously counter-productive today, unless religious leaders have no sense of how others think and feel. Rav Yosef Soloveichik once asked why there's so much resentment against observant Jews in Israel, whereas they're viewed with respect and interest in the USA-- his answer: "Thank God, we have no power to force anyone to do anything in America!" A requirement that local chief rabbis pass an examination in general culture or have a university degree might weed out those only fit for ritual supervision, not public relations, those to whom one would gladly bring his questionable chicken (which they know inside out), but not his questioning mind and soul (of which they usually have very little understanding). Likewise, candidates for high secular offices in Israel should have to pass a proficiency exam in Jewish culture, religion and tradition.

EDUCATION: The Ethics of the Fathers must be our guide-- "Beautiful is the study of Torah with the way of the earth." Jews must primarily master their own culture, Torah, while integrating it with the valid worldly knowledge and know-how of others. Even Moshe (Moses) learns public administration from Yisro (Jethro), as the State of Israel learned it from their temporary British occupiers. But we automatically lose, even if we win, when we enter competitions against the values of the Torah, e.g. immodest beauty contests and violent sports competitions.

Not only religion, but even secular Jewish culture is rapidly disappearing among the non-observant population. Every year, less Jewish academics select Bible as their area of interest. Television, Israel's most powerful high impact teacher, has very little Jewish content. It is perhaps our Number One public enemy. It fills innocent young Jewish children's heart and souls with the worst perversions and violence of cheap Western Civilization, occasionally even leading to murders and gang rapes by Israeli youth.

Unnatural and unwholesome western lifestyles, such as having a ball rather than many children, and adoring trivial sports heros, rather than great saints and scholars, may lead to the gradual extinction of secular Israelis, many of whom wind up in L.A. anyway.

FAMILY LIFE: Demographically, Israel is well on the way to becoming a religious Jewish and Arab configuration, barring any further massive immigration. Thus a major thrust of our educational system should be oriented toward the formation and maintenance of family life. Mainstream Judaism always preached early and prolific marriage, the only way to satisfy both the Infinite God's laws of sexual sanctity and commitment, and the Lord of Nature's laws of teenage sexual urges. By having children, one transforms all matter into its highest expression, an Image of God.

But western education, virtually ignoring woman's prime role as wife and mother, is not conducive to Jewish perpetuity, as young people marry and have their few children later and later, if at all. Israel should gear its higher education to the needs of young wives and mothers, who also wish to pursue careers, and should provide child care in medical school and other institutions of higher learning.

Cheap entertainment and advertising, using women's bodies as objects, treating sex as a snack, is the Biblical path to Israel's destruction.

ECONOMICS: No one is happy when punished for no reason. Why should a young man, who's worked hard for his money and paid his taxes, be given a huge fine, of at least 100%, if he decides to buy a car? "Pious" socialist ministers, e.g. Shimon Peres, who claimed that Moshiach comes on a donkey, not a Cadillac, and that anyone who wants a Cadillac in Israel needn't come here, should give up their own free expensive government cars and ride donkeys or bicycles. A VCR which costs $300 in NYC should not cost $700-800 in Israel. The net effect is that the young Israeli is likely to go down to LA to buy a nice car and video, and then devote the rest of his working life to build the USA and give it his income taxes-- a huge net loss to a short-sighted Israel. A store which keeps raising its prices soon loses its customers to other stores, even if they like the former store better otherwise.

May we all help build and see a much better Israel and world by 5758!

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