Today we have a video clip of ‘British-keit’ from our friends at YidLife Crisis, who I might add have been very helpful in parsing out and in assisting us with some of the more difficult nuances of our Yiddish-common-parlance, along with the pronunciation of some of our more difficult Yiddish phrases — and here, in a rather nu-anced twist, notice the ‘tahg’ . . . ‘Think Yiddish Drink British.’
Since as many of you know, we have our own small yet vibrant Lerhaus Newshul constituency in England, so aI thought it would be a nice idea to include their visit to The East London Central Synagogue especially in their schmoozing with the shul’s Senior Synagogue Warden, Leon Silver, and a mensch extraordinaire. The East London Synagogue, although situated in the UK and far from our ancestral homeland, understands the importance of living-in-the-world-as-it-is and yet is ‘mindful of the world — the way it is.’ For the record, this is a truth well worth considering.
How Israel Became a World Leader in Vaccinating Against Covid-19. (New York Times, Jan. 1, 2021)
Badly hit by the coronavirus, Israel has distributed the first of two vaccine doses to more than 10 percent of its population. Prime Minister Netanyahu is leading the charge, *bolstering his own battered image along the way.*
This has now become the very issue which has had the most direct effect on everyone’s health and health care, on the availability and the quality of food supply, on a stumbling economy, or put in another way, ‘a direct effect’ on a society and on an economy most anxious to normalize and return to work. There is much to learn from the Israeli example, albeit exacted from a much smaller model — and yet a model not superimposed over a false construct of state-by-state response and responsibility (or here, perhaps articulated as a a model predicated on ‘sense and sensibility’ — or in a more Jewish lexicon, ‘seichel and chochmah’).
And yet there is another ingredient here worthy of our consideration, that being a government in cooperation with the Religious establishment. One that recognizes the truth of science and the importance of acting in the best interests of the public, for the greater good. That the Prime Minister is not only cooperative but supportive should neither be ignored nor misunderstood as political expediency. No. This, as political as it sounds, should be understood as the triumph of science, of public policy, of social responsibility, and shared communal ethics over and above ignorance and for what many of us have witnessed in our own country — thinly disguised personal and political arrogance.
While for many of us, this may be a new beginning, let us not believe for one minute of our time that political and personal arrogance knows boundaries between our own political parties and the wide variety of what masquerades as political leadership in our own country and in our own time. All parties and all politicians are guilty of this at varying moments and at varying times. Let’s attempt to read own time as a ‘cautionary tale’ and study the lessons learned from Israel, as an example of the truth and of responsibility. For the record, truth is a very difficult way by which to live and it can be very frightening to the weak of heart. That being said, for us, ‘sense and sensibilities,’ are in the service of truth and they are the exact same principles which not only have sustained us, but have kept us alive to this very day.
There is a Yiddish expression which bears our consideration,
דער אמת שטארבט ניט, אבער ער לעבט ווי אן ארעמאן.
‘Der emes shtarbt nit, ober er lebt vi an oreman,’
“the truth never dies, but lives a wretched life . . .”
This Wednesday we will continue to explore the truth of Joseph’s sojourn in Egypt and his spectacular rise and integration into Egyptian society. To our reckoning, although rarely noted, he never really dwells, (i.e. lives) in Goshen. Unlike his brothers, his work is in food supply, real estate, workforce and labor supply. Since the Dotan episode, that fateful moment when his coat had been dashed in the blood of a kid in order to prove his death to his father, we will see that he never touches rams, lambs, sheep or goats again — or at all.
He lives in the world as a Jew — and in Egypt as the land in which he is quite comfortable, and a world in which he sees himself as ‘a part of’ and simultaneously, ‘apart from’. These are Joseph’s truths which we ourselves can learn from, even and especially in our own times and to this very day.