Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Israel is signing historic peace treaties today with the UAE and Bahrain, even while entering a lockdown because of our confounding corona morbidity data. How is it possible to explain simultaneous successes and failures of such magnitude? Is it possible to feel elevation and disappointment at the same time?
Our sages write about this conundrum as follows: “This nation is compared to dust and to stars. When the people go down, they go down to the dust, and when they go up, they go up to the stars.”
Our character is hyperactive, deceptive, rambunctious, and we tend to go to extremes in every direction. Sometimes we are good and generous and optimistic and full of solidarity, and sometimes we are egoistic and small-minded, bitter and uncooperative.
On Rosh Hashana we are accustomed to say “let us be a head and not a tail.” We know how to be a head, we know how to be a tail, and we know how to move perpetually between the two. At the beginning of the pandemic, Israel had one of the lowest morbidity rates in the world and now we have one of the highest.
We speak a lot about the first Israel and the second Israel, about the pro-Bibi and the anti-Bibi camps. It appears now that the corona has divided us in a completely different manner, between those who follow the rules and those who don’t. The two types exist within the nation, and both of them may even exist within each of us, engaged in a struggle. As we approach Rosh Hashana and a dramatic lockdown, may we all be committed to following the rules and reaching for the stars.