As I sit on my bed, MacBook on my lap, reading terrifying news from around the world I can hear birds chirping out my bedroom window. My neighbors grey-water system water fall trickles soothingly and steadily in complimentary rhythm. My serenity. I can close my eyes and drink in the sounds of spring time.
I open my eyes and scan another article. An Israel air strike last weekend in Syria. The civil war in Syria is still threatening to spill over our borders in the north east. The Hamas ran Gaza strip has still fired rockets into southern Israel while residents were celebrating the beginning of Lag B'Omer. Hezbollah in Lebanon is teetering on the edge of joining the Syrian soldiers against the rebels. Meanwhile in the US, a couple of psychos bombed a marathon in Boston and fertilizer plant exploded causing massive damage.
This sharp contrast between peace, harmony and beauty versus terror, war, and devastation is like teetering on the fence of sanity and insanity. Do I dare taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge between good and evil? It's all just one click away. In the palm on my hand sits my smartphone, the miniature sized computer that, with the tap of a finger, can give me a wide range of answers to looming questions. Do I dare to get them answered? Instead I read headlines and scan over a few articles that catch my eye, taking a break from the black hole of bleak-sounding news from around the world. It helps me to breathe a sigh of relief.
Meanwhile, back at home... in Tekoa the wind picks up and blows fiercely out my window.
To live in Israel, to be an Israeli in the Jewish homeland, you must really really want it. You have to work hard to be a citizen. You must be ready to fight for your rights, your place, your home. Not only ready to stand up for Israel's right to exist, but your own personal existence as well. In a country in modern infancy things like bureaucracy, diplomacy, and even pleasantries can be hard to come by.
This is what we have. This small sliver of land that is disputed all over the world. Even intellectual greats like Stephen Hawking choose to boycott against Israel, the only democracy in the middle east. This means that his support is for "Palestine", a nation of "displaced refugees" who's national charter calls for the complete annihilation of the country I call home. For this man, boycotting Israel should not be a limited one. If he truly is going to boycott Israel, he should please remove the Israeli Intel technology that helps him and allows him to speak.
Mr. Hawking was invited to a conference in Israel hosted by President Shimon Peres called Facing Tomorrow. This conference is meant to bring together a diverse group of 5,000 world leaders and intellectuals for discussions on an array of pressing world topics including; geopolitics, economics, environment and culture. President Peres, a Nobel Prize laureate is using his position and political capital to address some of the world's most pressing issues. "To boycott this effort is not reasoned criticism but rather pure chutzpa - an attempt to destroy an Israeli initiative not on its merits, but simply because it originates in the Jewish state." - Yvette Alt Miller via Stephen Hawking and the Israel Boycott - Sometimes very smart people do very dumb things.
Situations like these blatant anti semitic protests tend to leave me at a loss for words. There is nothing that I can say or express that would accurately depict the racism and ignorance that I see. That, makes me sad.
Fortunately I was able to read something good in the news this past week. A man by the name of Charles Ramsey became an over night hero when he responded to the screams of a woman in distress in Cleveland, OH. This imperfect man with a scattered past did what was right and what needed to be done. "There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that?" he told interviewers. On that day, Charles Ramsey rose to the challenges he faced and was the man he had the potential to be.
We all have that potential within us. We have the potential to be the greatest possible version of ourselves. When we're scanning the news and feeling overwhelmed by the hatred and violence that surrounds us we can think to ourselves about how we positively affect our olam hakatan (our personal small world). Our home, our neighborhood, our community, our city, our country... Do we have it within us to be a Charles Ramsey? To ignore that inner voice that says we've done wrong, we've hurt, we've lied, we've cheated? Instead just do what needs to be done to help others? To turn down the cash reward and be humble?
Charles Ramsey gives me hope that the intrinsic goodness of mankind is still in there... somewhere, despite the ignorance of intellectual greats like Stephen Hawking.
Just a few days ago, the 27th day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, I celebrated my 32nd birthday. In gematria (Hebrew numerology), the number 32 correlates with the Hebrew letters lamed ל and bet ב... spelling LEV לב - HEART. As many friends and family have told me the year of "Heart" should lead to an opening of the heart. To that merit, I bless each and every one of you to also have an opening of the heart. You should find your inner strength and heroism in the face of intolerance and cruelty. Open your hearts to joy and love. Only then will we be able to make this world a better place for us, our children and our children's children.
On a final note... I found some interesting information about astrology according to the Hebrew calendar. The month of Iyar makes me a Taurus whereas my English birthday (May 31) makes me a Gemini. Since I'm living on the cusp of two signs, I've included both passages.