web analytics
December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Israel’s Ain Breira Syndrome


Born a few years prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, I still feel the thrill of its emergence on the stage of nations.

It was a time characterized by depression and sorrow in the Jewish world. The Holocaust was fresh in everyone’s mind. I can still hear the anguish in the tears and screams of the congregation at Yizkor on Yom Kippur at the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst when the chazzan would intone the memorial prayer for the Six Million.

The room was filled to overflowing; many in the congregation had lost brothers and sisters, cousins – even entire families – to the Nazis. As a child I could feel the pain that hung as a dark cloud over the congregation. I felt it pressing on my shoulders as I clung to my grandfather for comfort. When Yizkor was concluded, everyone appeared exhausted from the ordeal. I shall never forget this abyss of sorrow that swallowed up young and old alike.

Countering this was the ecstasy we all felt in the fledgling Jewish state. Though Israel’s existence was precarious – a little nation flanked then as now by enemies on every side – Jews nevertheless felt a joy we hadn’t felt for centuries. Our hearts burst with pride when we gazed upon the noble Israeli, tilling the soil with one hand and defending it with the other.

These proud, idealistic Jews gave us a sense of dignity and worth we desperately needed, specifically in the aftermath of World War II. While there was real concern regarding the viability of the state, it was overshadowed by the sense that Israel was founded on the bedrock of miracles. Even the most secular among us quoted from the Prophets.

But just as the frontier spirit faded in the United States in the late 1800’s, it soon began to ebb in Israel as well. Today a kibbutznik no longer tills the soil; he’s more likely involved in the production of microchips. Those who still cultivate the land do so from air-conditioned tractors. As was true in the U.S., once the frontier spirit was gone, all the negative elements of existence became more pronounced.

For Israel this meant the horrific reality of living in a hostile neighborhood with little possibility of crafting a peace with its neighbors. The initial joy of Israel’s rebirth steadily gave way to the melancholy of day-to-day life. And as Arab nationalism was replaced by Islamist fervor, the situation became ever more glum. Dar Al Islam, the territory of Islam, can never permit a sovereign Jewish state in its midst.

And so an Ain Breira syndrome manifested itself. We saw it at work in Prime Minister Barak’s attempt to extract a peace from Yasir Arafat by surrendering to him more than he’d requested. And yet no peace emerged.

A classic example of the malady afflicting many of our brothers and sisters in Israel and the galut is the about-face executed by Ariel Sharon in his stance on territory and settlements.

Not too long ago, when Sharon never dreamed he would be elected prime minister, he was dubbed the “father of the settlements.” Indeed, he’d had taken upon himself the responsibility of raising funds for the settlements. During his stay in Chicago I accompanied him on several occasions and heard him wax poetic in describing the settlers as modern-day kibbutzniks, the best of Israeli society, the greatest protectors of the Jewish state.

Every settlement was precious to him, and in his various governmental capacities he used every ounce of his strength to advance their number. Yet, as prime minister, he gave up Gaza, going so far as to forcibly remove the same Jewish settlers he had praised. What happened to him? The answer is the Ain Breira syndrome.

The standard-bearer of nineteenth century German Orthodoxy, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, in his classic work The Nineteen Letters, described human existence as having been reduced to “physical enjoyment” and explained the role of the Jews among the nations of the world:

“Therefore there would be introduced into the ranks of the nations one People which would demonstrate by its history and way of life that the sole foundation of life is God alone…”

About the Author: Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz is the rav of Agudas Achim North Shore Congregation in Chicago. During his 43 years in the rabbinate he has led congregations in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom and served as an officer, Executive Committee member and chair of the Legislative Committee of the Chicago Rabbinical Council.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israel’s Ain Breira Syndrome”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A clip from"How to Stab a Jew," the latest hit on Arab social media.
‘How to Stab a Jew’ Going Viral on Palestinian Authority Social Media [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Ben-Tsvi-122614

“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”

Bill Cosby

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

MK Moshe-Feiglin

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

Knesset Logo

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

Despite strong pressure to throw the book at the accused, Mr. Thompson allowed him to plead guilty to assault.

A revolution is taking place between good and evil; light and darkness. Make the light activism!

More Articles from Rabbi Philip Lefkowitz

Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, died recently. The other day I saw a clip of him singing “Amazing Grace.” The sincerity in his voice was unmistakable. And why not? That hymn is his only saving grace. For Byrd found his faith in the Baptist church, which teaches that all sin can be washed away “in the blood of Christ.” It is divine grace and not good works that rights the wrongs perpetrated against one’s fellow human beings.

Having received a number of comments regarding my Jan. 1 op-ed article “Its Time to Bring Back the Communal Cold Shoulder,” it’s apparent that I need to clarify my position.

In 1890, William Blackstone organized a conference in Chicago of Christians and Jews to respond to the pogroms then occurring in Russia. The group unanimously passed a resolution urging world leaders “to stay the hand of cruelty from these time-honored People which have given them as well as us our Bible, our religion, and our knowledge of God.”

Born a few years prior to the establishment of the state of Israel, I still feel the thrill of its emergence on the stage of nations.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-ain-breira-syndrome/2007/07/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: