Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nu, You Should Be So Happy

After reading about Spengler's article Why Israel is the Happiest Country at the Muqata and at Solomonia, I had to read it for myself.

The article offers a glimpse as to why, in spite of facing hostile nations, Israelis and Jews throughout their history, continue to sing, to dance, and to celebrate life. Israel does stand alone among the nations as Spengler's graph shows:

Israel, the modern nation, turned 60. Israel, the ancient people, is in year 5768. Why this longevity in the face of threats from Babylonians, ancient Greeks, the Romans, and Muslim and Christian throughout the years? Why this life even after the Holocaust?

In his article, Spengler makes the following observation:

Israel is surrounded by neighbors willing to kill themselves in order to destroy it. "As much as you love life, we love death," Muslim clerics teach; the same formula is found in a Palestinian textbook for second graders. Apart from the fact that the Arabs are among the least free, least educated, and (apart from the oil states) poorest peoples in the world, they also are the unhappiest, even in their wealthiest kingdoms.

The contrast of Israeli happiness and Arab despondency is what makes peace an elusive goal in the region. It cannot be attributed to material conditions of life. Oil-rich Saudi Arabia ranks 171st on an international quality of life index, below Rwanda. Israel is tied with Singapore on this index, although it should be observed that Israel ranks a runaway first on my life-preference index, whereas Singapore comes in dead last.

Even less can we blame unhappiness on experience, for no nation has suffered more than the Jews in living memory, nor has a better excuse to be miserable. Arabs did not invent suicide attacks, but they have produced a population pool willing to die in order to inflict damage greater than any in history. One cannot help but conclude that Muslim clerics do not exaggerate when they express contempt for life.

When Abram's name was changed by HaShem to Abraham, a new nation was born. It was first and foremost based on a love of life. A lot of people look askance at Jewish kashrut laws. Some state that are merely basic hygienic rules that were made when there was no refrigeration. But that isn't the purpose of kashrut. From the sesame seed to a nice, thick rib eye steak, kashrut makes us conscience of what we eat.

It seems ridiculous to some to keep separate sets of cooking ware, dishes, and utensils in order to keep dairy foods separate from meats. But the injunction is there:

The Torah tells us this in basic terms three times (Exodus 23:19 and 34:26 and Deuteronomy 14:21) with the phrase: "Do not boil a kid in its mother's milk." Using these three citations, the rabbis, in later discussions, deduce three meanings for the prohibition on mixing milk and meat.

All of this is to avoid causing animals undue suffering. When Abraham's name was changed, a sanctity for life was bought forth. If we are to be mindful of the pain of animals, how much more are we to be mindful of the pain we cause to others?

It is this love and respect for life that has kept Jews alive through the worst persecutions imaginable. It is the love and hope in HaShem that has kept us going.

If faith makes the Israelis happy, then why are the Arabs, whose observance of Islam seems so much stricter, so miserable? Islam offers its adherents not love - for Allah does not reveal Himself in love after the fashion of YHWH - but rather success. "The Islamic world cannot endure without confidence in victory, that to 'come to prayer' is the same thing as to 'come to success'. Humiliation - the perception that the ummah cannot reward those who submit to it - is beyond its capacity to endure," I argued in another location. Islam, or "submission", does not understand faith - trust in a loving God even when His actions appear incomprehensible - in the manner of Jews and Christians. Because the whim of Allah controls every event from the orbit of each electron to the outcome of battles, Muslims know only success or failure at each moment in time.

I've posted the following joke before:

A new flood is foretold by the world's weather specialists and they say that nothing can be done about it. In three days, the waters will wipe out the world.

The Dalai Lama appears on television and pleads with everybody to turn to Buddhism. That way, they will at least reach enlightenment.

The Pope goes on television and says that the world must accept Christianity in order to attain salvation.

The Chief Rabbi of Israel takes a slightly different approach: "We all have three days to learn how to live under water

For thousands of years, Jews have been having a love affair with HaShem. Shir HaShirim is an expression of that love affair:

My beloved resembles a gazelle or a fawn of the hinds; behold, he is standing behind our wall, looking from the windows, peering from the lattices.

My beloved raised his voice and said to me, 'Arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.

For behold, the winter has passed; the rain is over and gone.

The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

The fig tree has put forth its green figs, and the vines with their tiny grapes have given forth their fragrance; arise, my beloved, my fair one, and come away.

My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the coverture of the steps, show me your appearance, let me hear your voice, for your voice is pleasant and your appearance is comely.'

Seize for us the foxes, the little foxes, who destroy the vineyards, for our vineyards are with tiny grapes.

My beloved is mine, and I am his, who grazes among the roses.

This is the hope. That whenever the darkness(whatever form it may take) of winter is lifted, the blossoms will once again appear. And always, "My beloved is mine, and I am his". Nu, you should be so happy.

1 comment:

Deadman said...

Sorry, offtopic. E-mail me, Shira, so I can send you a password to Hell.