Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving, Partition and Showing Gratitude

Tonight I'm off to my maiden Thanksgiving Party courtesy of the lovely Maayan and Susi. Meriting as I did to grow up in the north-western suburbs of London, the Thanksgiving experience is new to me.

Yet no one needs an excuse for a party. And giving thanks is something we probably don't do often enough.

In fact, the Talmudic Rabbis teach us an important lesson on this issue in a discussion over how much one needs to eat before reciting grace after meals. Whereas the Torah in Devarim suggests we only need to 'Bensch' after being satisfied (ככתוב ואכלת ושבעת וברכת ) the Rabbis conclude that Jews should say 'grace' after only eating a Kezayit (about 30 grams.)

In other words, one doesn’t need to be full to express thanks for food.

Falling as it does on the 4th Thursday of November, Thanksgiving weekend always comes around the same time as the anniversary of the UN Partition Plan that promised a sovereign part of Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people for the first time in two millenia. Next week on the 29th November we mark its 60th anniversary.

And like the declaration of independence, the words
'The Temple Mount is in our hands' or Hatikva sung in a full football stadium, hearing the British accent announcing how those votes were cast in the UN General Assembly is one of those things that send shivers down my spine;

"Afghanistan…no.
Argentina…Argentina? abstention.
Australia…yes.
Belgium…yes.
Bolivia…yes…
Yugoslavia…abstain.
The resolution was adopted for 33 votes 13 against with 10 abstentions".

As I wrote last year, the Partition Plan wasn’t ideal by any means - it didn’t even include Jerusalem as part of the proposed State.

But in many ways, I think its acceptance by the Yishuv is what Zionism is about – being satisfied with something less than our dreams – and making reasoned decisions of what is achievable at any particular time given the circumstances.

At its core, Zionism and Rabbinic Judaism teach us that life is about giving thanks even when we aren't completely satisfied, when we eat yet aren't full, when we dream yet experience only partial ful-fillment.

At last years Thanksgiving, President Bush declared that "We give thanks to the Author of Life who granted our forefathers safe passage to this land, who gives every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth the gift of freedom, and who watches over our nation every day."

We celebrate this year in the lead up to a peace Summit in Annapolis that will inevitably lead to concessions over what many Israelis believe is rightfully theirs.

Yet perhaps we should be happy for the sovereign recognized State we do have, for the safe passage to places generations of Jews could only dream; give thanks, even if the compromises we will need to make (to provide another people their freedom) aren't necessarily what we would have ideally wanted.

And pray that the Author of Life continues to watch over our nation every day.

5 comments:

Nina S Bendheim said...
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Nina S Bendheim said...
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Yehudi01 said...

Great post! I always enjoy dropping-by and reading your latest! L'Shalom, Yehudi

Shalom said...

Having read some of your posts, I believe that after 6 years of constant terror it'd be a fatal mistake to make any concessions to the Arabs. Withdrawal from Lebanon brought a war last year; withdrawal from Gaza lead to terror in Sderot and all of western Negev. So, people who support such ideas as concessions to the Arabs should really move to Sderot and other communities in the south and experience what other Israelis go through. Perhaps then people open their eyes and see what is going on (I said perhaps and I expect no miracles). You might be able to go for a coffee in Jerusalem but can the people of Sderot do the same? Jews must accept that we have to be able to stand on our own two feet and not expect from anyone any help. Presently Israel has a mighty ally, but alliances can always become obsolete. Concessions to the Arabs, no matter what the Western World believes and how it views such gestures, are perceived as a great sign of weakness by the Arabs and since Jews have to live side by side with them, just listen to what your neighbours say not what others want you to hear. Nations stood by when Jews where killed by the millions and I'm certain they'll do the same if/when it happens again. No concession will ever make the Arabs happy apart the total annihilation of Israel and they are fully committed to this purpose. No matter how many Israeli and Jewish organisation protest about summer camps of terror, daily rockets, multiple attempts for terrorist attacks nobody cares. When two parties negotiate, it’s a give-and-take situation. Israel gives and the Arabs take-that's surrender, not negotiations.
Chanukah Sameach
Shalom, your Greek friend

Anonymous said...

interesting lesson...

"But in many ways, I think its acceptance by the Yishuv is what Zionism is about – being satisfied with something less than our dreams – and making reasoned decisions of what is achievable at any particular time given the circumstances.

At its core, Zionism and Rabbinic Judaism teach us that life is about giving thanks even when we aren't completely satisfied, when we eat yet aren't full, when we dream yet experience only partial fulfillment"

http://www.nemontel.net/~word1/mind_in_the_desert.htm