We are a group of friends who meet every few weeks for lunch. We enjoy each other’s company, solve problems, console, discuss current events and pontificate on the state of the world. We are mature, frum, normal, well-functioning women who have established fine Jewish families and have accomplished a thing or two during our lives. We boast our very own Political Commentator, a Social Guidance Comforter and Counselor, a sit-down-email Comedienne who supplies the laughs, a Wise Woman of few but valuable words, one lovable Cynic, several Listeners (with so much talking going on, there has to be someone who will listen!) and a few other interesting types who add their wit and witticisms as needed to the general consortium.
The last time we met, the world was in such turmoil that we didn’t know where to begin. The threat to uproot the established West Bank settlement of Amona was in the news and a new investigation of our prime minister was breaking. We had to deal with the fallout of the presidential elections in the United States, which blocked out all other news and filled the front, middle and back pages of all the papers for weeks on end. Appointments, decisions, questions about good-for-the-Jews, bad-for-the-Jews and, of course, Obama’s slew of lame duck laws were all fair subjects for review. The eternal war in Syria and its accompanying atrocities also made the news but was quickly replaced by Trump’s daily Tweets.
Then came another tsunami. The guilty of manslaughter verdict for Elor Azariya, the soldier who shot and killed a terrorist who was supposedly “neutralized.” The guilty verdict enraged a good part of the population and swept through the country like a tidal wave, drowning us in words, pictures, reports and opinions. We cared passionately and we reacted with a flood of protests – pro and con. And then, a terrorist drove a truck into a group of young soldiers on a sidewalk in Jerusalem. Let it never be said that life in the Digital Age is quiet, relaxed… or safe.
So, this time, our luncheon group decided that due to the excess of news we would simply tune out for one afternoon. We would pay no attention to the confused and troubling state of affairs in the world but would rather concentrate on pleasant, more personal concerns. Things like babies born, weddings of grandchildren, shidduchim of older singles, bar and bat mitzvas. All the things that are living, daily proof that Am Yisrael Chai, despite the endless problems and difficulties surrounding us. But our Cynic was unhappy.
“We’re alive, but what kind of a world are we bringing all these babies into?” she asked. “Who will teach the newly-marrieds how to build peaceful, happy homes? How will the bar/bat mitzvah kids survive the smartphone plague? Who will clean up the shady dealings in Congress and the Knesset? Who will shut up the UN? And who will teach people how to be mentshen? Will anyone emerge safe and sane?” She turned to our Wise Woman for some comforting words of advice only to be met with a despairing shrug of shoulders.
“I don’t know,” said the Wise One. “I just don’t know. I suppose things will work out somehow. My bubby used to say that everything irons itself out… eventually.”
“It’s true,” added our Social Guidance Counselor. “Every age has new problems and challenges to deal with and people have a way of finding new solutions. We just need patience, sense and sensitivity.”
“And there are always surprises! You never know who will be voted in next,” said Mrs. Politics. “Just look at what happened in the U.S. elections! Why, we could have an Abraham Lincoln as our next prime minister. If he could win the Civil War – which was really a horrid situation – someone like him could put things back in shape for us too. That’s who we need… Abraham Lincoln!”
“Avraham Lincoln,” added our Comedienne. “Avraham. He was Abraham in Springfield. In Jerusalem he’d be Avraham!”
“He already has a street name in Jerusalem,” said one of our Listeners (they also speak on occasion). “They just have to learn how to pronounce it properly here.”
“They pronounce it just fine,” said Ms. Cynic. “Lincoln is spelled with an “L” in English but it’s a silent “L.” Hebrew is phonetic. If it’s spelled with a lamed, we pronounce it. Lincoln Street in Hebrew is Rechov Lin-ko-lin.”
“English is crazy,” adds another Listener. “There are no rules. That’s why our kids have so much trouble learning it.”
At that point, the entire conversation veered in a different direction. The state of the world was temporarily set aside as the women began analyzing the state of education in the Land of Israel. One thing led to another, until it was decided that it was time to establish a system which would, hopefully, eventually, teach Israeli kids to speak English correctly. Maybe it would be functional in time for our great-grandchildren or their descendants, by which time it would no longer be our problem.
We finished our coffees, cocoa, and tea, wiped away the remaining signs of caloric goodies from our plates, said a bracha acharona and were ready to go, comforted by the knowledge that we had done it once again. Despite all odds, our world was back in place… orderly, comprehensible, full of hope and meaning for the next and future generations, at least until we meet for again. Lunch, anyone?