Friday, 5 January 2018

The Missing Link

For a long time many of us, especially those who are involved in Jewish education in Yisrael and elsewhere, have been perplexed and frustrated as we try to understand where we went wrong in that realm, because we have. Many young Jews, nowadays, seem to have lost the compass and the road map which connects between our ancient inevitability and its path towards a fulfilling future. They feel lost. They are easily influenced by foreign creeds and quickly fall prey to manipulations and disinformation that are abundantly funneled by elements that wish to bring both a Spiritual and Physical destruction to our Jewish existence.

I recently read an article (in Hebrew) by Uri Heitner entitled “The dwindling of the Spirit in Yisrael.” In it, Heitner sheds light on some of the conditions and circumstances that might have speeded up and contributed to that process which has been going on for sometimes now.

Heitner claims, and justifiably so, that since the 70’s there has been a substantial devaluation of the Tanach in the Yisraeli culture. He continues to surmise that this sad reality stems from our desertion of the Oral Law and two thousand years of Jewish existence and cultural survival in the Diaspora.

As a teacher in Eretz Yisrael, I can attest to that. Secular Zionism (for Zionism, the several thousands of years old concept, has many facets), whose staunch supporter was David Ben-Gurion, claims that the return to Eretz Yisrael requires reconnecting only to our Tanach roots and disengaging from the Diaspora legacy and Post Tanach era. Ben Gurion suggested that in order to create a new modern Jewish identity, a leap in Jewish history and culture was vital, thus wiping out two millennia of a fruitful tradition that assisted and strengthened the spreading of Jewish roots in a fertile ground called Judaism.

That was a grave mistake.

It was a mistake since that essential link is what is missing from today’s Jewish education. It is the cause for ignorance about the concept of Zionism and other important concepts and land marks in our evolution as a nation, as a culture and as a civilization. Its absence has opened up the doors to wrong interpretations of our heritage, by foreigners who likewise, are, and not surprisingly so, uneducated about this great important link in our history as a Jewish nation.

 Judaism and its related concepts, like all cultures, are built on layers, each one supported by the layer underneath it. Trying to jump from “Tanach to Palmach”, as Heitner describes it, is like “trying to build a ceiling over a floor without having the support of pillars and columns between the two.” Disengaging from the wealth of the abundant and remarkable Jewish cultural layers that were conceived between the Tanach era and the current Yisraeli identity, was a great injustice. Any real effort to connect to the Tanach while ignoring the compelling culture and history that developed during the Diaspora era, in post Tanach times is doomed to failure. It has resulted in a culturally handicapped modern day Yisraeli and Jewish generations. Not only do they have difficulty understanding the Tanach, they face similar hurdles understand the poetry of National Poets like Bialik who was reared in that culture and whose poetry is saturated with that great heritage. Such a leap has culturally paralyzed our modern day Yisraeli culture to such an extent that Bialik needed to be translated into “Yisraeli Hebrew. “

By now many of you know my sentiments that any efforts to translate our Hebrew/Jewish culture into any language will result in a tragedy. In fact, it was Bialik himself who suggested that reading poetry in translation is akin to “kissing through a handkerchief.” He must be turning in his grave, as I am certain many of our great minds and cultural giants, such as Yehudah Halevi, Tschernichovsky and many others who kept our great Jewish Spirit going through all the years of separation from Eretz Yisrael, the Cradle of Our Civilization, must be.

They are probably mourning the loss of Jewish continuity, one of the pillars of our strength. They must be shedding their heavenly tears as they witness the misinterpretation, innocent or otherwise, of a few millennia old Jewish tenets such as Zionism, Halacha,  The Oral Law and other strongholds that have sheltered our people against the storms of history.

Recently, I read that Minister of Education, Bennett, boasted about the great changes he has made in our Yisraeli educational system. Not enough, I say. Bring back that badly needed missing link. Teach our young ones the meaning of Jewish pride and in the original language.

I have nothing against translation as a means of bridging between cultures and nations. I am all for it. However, by all means do not try to kiss the original through a “handkerchief.” That “handkerchief,” in many cases, is tainted and infested with germs of misunderstanding, disinformation and someone’s well planned and well-oiled agenda.

May we all have a Meaningful Shabbat and a Peaceful weekend.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that more genuine Torah learning INCLUDING The Tanya to. Explain the Torah is essential. Am Yisroel.