By: Rabbi Idit Lev
The month of Elul and the ten days of repentance that follow it are a yearly fixed point in time, when we are asked to search our souls and make changes. The fixed repetition every year of prayers and texts brings us a double message. On the one hand, there will always be more things to repair and, on the other hand, we must try to make the repairs. Correction and change in personal behavior are difficult and not simple (think of a habit you have that you want to get rid of but have difficulty doing so). But, when we succeed in bringing about personal change – how good is the feeling.
During these days, my thoughts are personal, inward-looking, thoughts about mitzvoth between me and God, thoughts about my relationships with people and the world around me, the mitzvoth between man and man, and where I stand in all of this. I see the mitzvoth as a route showing me the right way to behave, what should be my expectations for myself. There is no other place where I feel so much at home, understand the childhood of my children, which so much resembles my own childhood.
In contrast to me, a woman who observes the mitzvoth, the state is not required to give a true reckoning. It is under no religious authority (and some will say this is a good thing), it is under no clear moral authority, and elections once in four years does not constitute real accountability.
I have no doubt that there are in the political system and in the government there are people who examine themselves, and act for a better place. But, when I look a the general picture of our State, and do its their and our – as it members, examination, I see that there are so many changes to do, and so many thing to correct. But the greatest difficulty is that we, as a society, do not agree about what is needed to be corrected.
What I see
From the Centre of Human Rights of “Rabbis for Human Rights” and from my personal life as mother of three children in the state educational system, I see a state which puts economic values at the top of the list. The politicians measure the GDP and the rate of unemployment and growth, but forget that we have a responsibility towards people from other countries who are persecuted and tortured. We have forgotten that the state’s responsibility is not only to organize peoples’ lives, but also to be concerned with the rights of all who live here: rights to accommodation, work, a decent existence, a good education and many other rights which are not implemented in the State of Israel.
Year after year, I invest my strength and my efforts to make this country a better place. Every year, I observe more injustice and more difficulties facing people trying to live a decent and honourable life, Sometimes I wonder if this modern creation of a state truly serves the people living there. This year I would like us to succeed in causing the State of Israel to do some soul-searching and to give simple, clear answers. I want the state to think about what she does, what she chooses and repairs in the new year, what she knows must be fixed and cannot do now, but remembers to do later on. I would like the state to take the Jewish value system and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and to examine herself in the light of them.
Do people living inIsraelhave the right to decent accommodation? Do we have the right to proper employment? Is the public health system a good one? Is there good public education? What values do we inculcate in the public education system? Is there racism in our country? Do we behave towards the other and the stranger, in a way that is right and decent?
More and more questions
After the state examines these issues for itself, let it stand before us, just as we stand before a higher court, and give us an account, and plan of action for changing and repairing the present situation. I know that this is a dream that will not be realized, and in the best case I will receive from my country an economic summary of the situation and how the Treasury officials suggest fixing it (this is called the state budget), a summary which does not see the humanity of every man, even if he is unemployed, disabled or a child who has trouble adjusting to the overcrowded school system.
As long as I believe that we have a chance of causing this to happen, I will continue to fight for this country. The year now ending has not been encouraging and I pray that the coming year will bring the winds of change that I and many others wish for, and know that they will not come if we do not bring them. Everything is expected and permission is given. This year may we choose – as Jews, as a society and as a country – to see each and every man, to respect everyone and care for all.
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