Resting and entering into an inheritance

Why is Israel, a place so full of brilliance and life, also a place of such great sadness and suffering?

By Anat Schneider |
Photo: Pexels/Maria Orlova

It’s Saturday evening. I am sitting in a warm, cozy hotel lobby in the snowy Austrian Alps. The hotel is bustling with tourists from all over Europe. The hotel has existed since the 1950s, passed down from generation to generation within the family.

It’s snowing heavily outside. Inside, I drink a cup of tea and enjoy the warmth.

And as is usual for me ever since October 7th,  I open my smartphone app to read the latest news in my country. The news in Israel changes at a dizzying pace; and I pray in my heart that there are no deaths or injuries; that no IDF soldier’s name was “cleared for publication,” because every time the name of another fallen soldier is released, it breaks my heart.

I pray for calm.

I read that an Israeli delegation is going to Paris for negotiations regarding the return of the captives to Israel. I give thanks to God in my heart. On the other hand, I read that the families of those hostages gathered together for Shabbat evening. This is the first time they held a Shabbat reception since their loved ones were kidnapped. They set up a table in “Hostage Square” and talked about the hope in their hearts as the delegation flew to Paris. They are filled with hope that maybe next Shabbat their loved ones will sit and welcome the day of rest with them.

Amen, yes, God willing, I say in my heart.

One of the mothers tells about the moments of receiving the traditional Shabbat in her home, warm emotions that are so familiar in Israeli homes. Friday evening, just before Shabbat begins, everything feels different – the atmosphere, the fragrance of the food, the feeling in the heart, the anticipation. The same mother furthermore tells about her son Omer, who has not been home for nearly 150 days. And since he was abducted, Shabbat celebrations have not been held in their home. The sorrow in her face is evident and the fears are vast. An expectation sprouts in her heart that maybe, thanks to the conference in Paris, there is a chance that next Friday her son will return home and bring her a bouquet of flowers, as is his custom.

I read this with a wince and a heart full of sympathy for that mother and all those dear families who are suffering so much. And I ponder the gaping contrast between life in the bustling European hotel where I am currently staying, and the sad life in my Israeli homeland.

A question pecks at my thoughts. How is it possible that we in Israel are intelligent, peace-loving and life-affirming people; yet our life is so sad? And I have an insight that maybe the answer lies in the DNA of the Jewish people. I ask myself if that is the Jewish DNA. If so, perhaps it is also our weak point? If we look throughout history, we will see that Jewish people are constantly seeking change and progress. This is a people that never stops striving for developing, learning, inventing and reaching achievements in every possible field. It is not for nothing that we are called “The people of the book.” Studying is an integral part of this people. Many of the great changes related to the development of the world can be attributed to the Jewish brain.

 

Maybe this is our Achilles heel?

Maybe because Jews constantly have the need to innovate and invent and develop, we become frenetic and unable to stay in the same place for a long time – certainly not long enough to run a business for a lifetime and then pass it on from generation to generation.

We are constantly looking to invent the next thing, as if without it we have no right to exist! And maybe this is the reason why we never find rest and inheritance?

As they say in Israel, there will be time enough to rest, to enter into the rest and inheritance, in the grave. Maybe this is why our country, which is full of so many brilliant minds, is also so sad and suffering? I bring up these thoughts before my family members at our Shabbat table in the hotel and a fruitful conversation follows.

“If we weren’t like that,” they say, “many things wouldn’t progress in the world; the world needs new developments and new minds and thoughts.”

All agree.

“This is our strong point,” one replies. “We are very successful, and that’s why they don’t like us.”

True, true! Everything is true and everyone is right, but I am no longer reassured by these answers. They do not lead us to a good and safe place. Sometimes it’s better to be wise and not right! These days when I just want to live my life in peace and security, when I pray for the peace of my people, the Austrian hotel family serves as my inspiration. This wonderful family, with whom I had the opportunity to speak at length during my stay there, has been running the same hotel for generations. Their “progress” is the way in which they strengthen, preserve and cultivate what they inherited from their parents. They are not trying to invent anything new. But they have something to pass on to future generations.

And that, in my opinion, is the real genius. So I say aloud to my family that maybe after thousands of years of struggling to survive, from exile to restoration, from war to relative peace, from one oppressor to another, maybe now’s the time for the Jewish people to instead use their brilliant mind to find a solution and a way to create something good that we an pass on to our descendants, from generation to generation.

Europe has done it! Maybe Israel can too?

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One response to “Resting and entering into an inheritance”

  1. Helen Nicholson says:

    A really great insight. If only we could understand the “dislike”?! of Jews worldwide. Have loved visiting your country twice, my siblings and I have a great affinity to you. Have been following Israel Today on Telegram daily since October 7. Continually praying.
    Helen Nicholson NSW

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