Citizens (not politicians) can make a difference

Rocket fired toward the sea during a military drill of the Mujahideen Brigades on the beach in Gaza City, April 24, 2021. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** עזה ים אימון נגד ישראל טילים נשק חם פלסטינאים פלסטינים עיר
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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Rockets in the south. Violence in Jerusalem. Political stalemate. At first glance it would seem that our ability to influence any of this is limited. It's already been two years that we have been waiting and hoping that, perhaps, a stable government will form. In practice, it is important to address all of these matters that are a cause for concern. But the State of Israel is also highly dependent on the atmosphere, the culture, and the values by whose light we, the citizens, live. On Shabbat we read in the parasha a series of mitzvot which, taken together, are the foundation upon which a successful society is built:

"You shall rise before the aged, and respect the elderly. You shall not curse the deaf, nor place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall not defraud your fellow. You shall not commit robbery. You shall not withhold the laborer's wages overnight. You shall not speak gossip among your people. You shall judge your fellow fairly. You shall not stand idly by the shedding of your fellow's blood. You shall love your fellow as yourself."

How should we treat parents and children, friends and employees, spouses and strangers? Our behavior towards others remains relevant whether we go to a fifth round of elections or not. Ben-Gurion once famously declared: "Our future depends not on what the gentiles will say, but rather on what the Jews will do." This is correct, of course, but perhaps during the current frustrating situation we should add: "Our future depends not (only) on what the politicians will say, but rather on what the citizens will do."

Have a good and peaceful week. Shavua tov.

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