Sunday, July 29, 2012
At first I thought about posting this song because it went well with the sudden beer and cigarette tax raise. I used to think that people smoke just because of the pose and out of boredom-but I now get that it's much more than that-as unhealthy as it is, it's a stress relief and when it's done solitary it also serves as a moment of reflection-but maybe as a non-smoker that's just how I see it in my mind. Anyways, Thursday's frustration and anger has become sadness because I really can't think of any real alternative that would work and make things better. I keep hearing people say that if things get worse and it'll be too expensive for them to live here they'll move to somewhere else "where the government doesn't spit in its citizens faces" but most of them can't really bring themselves to leave. I have to say that I'm afraid of the day when they'll say that enough is enough and really leave. With their friends and family. So it's pretty fitting to post this on Tesha Be'Av, the day mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. I've never really paid much attention to Tesha Be'Av but somehow this year is different. I came across an article by Rabbi Raffi Foyershtein and found it very insightful and interesting, mainly because it's so different from other Judiasm articles I've read which tend to be preachy and unreadable so here's a rough translation:
"Tisha B'Av-A National Tranquilizer
When ideologies threaten to tear society, Tisha B'Av stops us for one day, exhausts our psycho-physical strengths, and leads us to an intellectual discussion-with a little less ego and emotions.
What do we lack? What were our ancestors lacking that because of it their country was destroyed and in its center the Temple, and they lost their state and spiritual independence? A macro-level analysis will reveal that what they lacked is balance. Because it can be settled that the First Temple was destroyed because of a lack of vision and spirit, while the Second Temple was destroyed due to excess of "spirit" and vision.
The First Temple was destroyed due to economic, governmental, religious, sexual corruption. The abundance blinded our ancestors, confused them and made them give up the vision for immediate material abundance, apparently satisfactory. The kingdom had rotten from the inside, the worm ate the inside, and the outer shell could not hold the rotting and dying building. Religion was a thin layer that could not cover the inner corruption that had eaten up every bit.
The Second Temple, that's already another story. Great spiritual currents swept the nation. The abundance of spirit, in which their ideological passion did not allow them to talk with each other. They physically and economically hurt each other. Some mention the famous story of Tisha B'Av "Kamtza and Bar Kamtza" in which there was a mistake in an invitation to a fancy dinner, and instead of inviting the friend "Kamtza" the hated "Bar Kamtza". And the host didn't consent to "Bar Kamtza"'s pleas to keep him in the meal and not insult him, for any fortune in the world, that's how great the hatred was. And "Bar Kamtza", who was thrown in disgrace from the meal, swore to revenge, and he stirred up a fight between the Jewish community and the Roman emperor. That's how great the hatred was. Some say that the hatred between the host and Bar Kamtza, the guest caught in by accident, was ideological-political.
Well, these two topics should turn on a red light and they are the lesson that we, in my opinion, need to take to Tisha B'Av in our own time.
The red light of the First Temple-corruption, lack of vision, materialism of the piggish capitalistic kind that does not allow us to see "the other". The red light of the Second Temple-ideological movements that are, for the opposite reason, unable to sit with the other. "The Second Temple problem" is of great concern, because we don't agree between us on very fundamental questions.
What do we do? What is the message of Tisha B'Av? Do I give up my truth? Do I give up on my coherent world view? Do I repeat the question (leave the orthodox lifestyle)? Repent? Maybe to be light religious, or light secular? Tisha B'Av is about another focus of the problem, it doesn't deal with the problem itself, but rather the way it is conducted, in the methodology of the dispute.
One possibility to settle the problem is politics. The difference between the intellectual and politician, is that the role of the intellectual is to deepen his concept and sharpen it. While the role of the politician is to bring the best achievement that he can reach. On the way he compromises and makes alliances, gives away and others give him. In a practical term it allows them to live together. In an emotional and identity-wise term, it's not enough.
Well, we need to find another option, that would also satisfy the spirit and not just the act, the ideal and not just the practice. My solution lies in the tragic figure of a sage in the Second Temple era whose name was Rabbi Zecharia Beb Avkulus. He was a man full of spirit, and would say about himself that he lived off a small amount of carob, once a week. Well, his ruling caused in a complicated way destruction, and sages say that he had to give up his opinion to prevent the destruction. In other words, his stance on its own was correct, but in a wider weighting he had to give up his opinion, because weighty spiritual interests were at stake. It wasn't supposed to be a political concession, it was supposed to be a spiritual weighting. It was supposed to be a balance of values and attempt to produce a result that takes into account the most values that he himself believed in.
Who applied this approach in dealing with the central spiritual conflicts that tore the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th was Rabbi Kook. He taught us that two divided opinions are like two physical forces that collide with each other, and may together create a third force that contains in an integrative way the previous two.
If every one of us asked himself what he receives from those he disagree with, where is his contribution to society, even a small one, a bridge would be created, a thin nerve cord that would allow communication.
The problem, Tisha B'Av philosophy tells us, is not with the values themselves that we believe in. The problem is with the ego that mixes with them. The problem is that sometimes the ego speaks for the values and not the values themselves.
Tisha B'Av is a day of analysis whose job is to remove the egoistic components from your philosophy, from your position. The moment only your values will speak, a dialogue will be created. It's not that the ego makes all of the difference, of course not, but the ego doesn't allow us to listen to the other and see that our position is also limited, and has its weaknesses.
So basically Tisha B'Av is telling us, calm down the emotions and let the mind work. Maybe that's why the fast is the amendment of this crisis. Because the fast exhausts our psychic-physical strengths, it has a dimension of giving, relaxing. Maybe that's really the message, a national tranquilizer that will allow us to start working together. At least to start".
Something to think about over your next cigarette.
Shlomi Shaban is much more than a singer. He's also more than a talented pianist, composer and songwriter. He's a poet.
You like your cigarettes, you like Fridays
You like your friends only in the evenings
And when you come back home the lights are always on
And you don't have a childhood, you don't have a future, and you have time
You're willing to put up with your memories only as stories
Around a table loaded with laughing mouths
And when you come back home you sing
Because you have a dream, because you have a dream and you don't have time
Your first kiss from a bartender at Yehuda Hamacabi
She has highlights in her hair and dates athletes
And when you suddenly bump into her nothing is real
So you have a dream, so you have a dream, whose dream?
Line five south, your love sells records
This city isn't small for her, just a little tight on the sides
You think maybe to escape and die from longing
Because this is your place, because you have a place and there is no choice