Friday, October 24, 2008

A Time for Everything under Heaven

24/10 Jerusalem Post
Livni: We've made final offer to Shas
24/10 BBC News
UK economy braced for recession
23 /10 BBC News
Obama: McCain will 'endanger' US
23/10 Ha’aretz
Peres: Saudi plan can bring peace
23/10 AFP
Israel okays more Palestinian police
11/9 Jerusalem Post
Settlers gear up for evacuation fight

I don’t remember the last time I was both in Shul for, and concentrated during, the book of Kohelet, (Ecclesiastes) which we read on the Shabbat during the festival of Succot.

Without attempting to justify this sacrilege, it’s just so long, and all everyone wants to do is get on with the service (and there is really no need for it to be read out loud);

But this year was different:

I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with the book
Collapse, which I’ve written about when discussing the Temple’s destruction on Tisa Be’Av and Teshuva on Rosh Hashana. It charts why societies who had once lived successfully die out arguing that the catalyst for their collapse was often not adapting to a new environment.

My favorite example were the Norse, who moved to Greenland from Norway and continued to raise cattle (even though the environment didn’t support it); They continued to spend money importing religious artifacts from Europe, even at the expense of food. They continued to boycott fish, because that’s what the pagan Inuit’s did.

They ultimately died from starvation…

The book’s conclusion – one
Reut shares and bases its methodology on - is that maintaining one’s mindset and behavior when reality diverges creates a ‘relevancy gap.’ And relevancy gaps can lead to strategic surprises.

What worked in Norway, doesn’t necessarily work in Greenland.

A successful strategy in 1967 can be an abject failure in 1973…

What strengthens the state in the 40s, may destroy it 60 years later.

And in this context, what could be wiser than King Solomon’s statement from Kohelet, לכל זמן ועת לכל-חפץ תחת השמים – that to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.

Everything has its right (and wrong) time. “There is a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time for silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”

There is indeed a time for everything…

A time for keeping Mitzvot and a time for
‘sinning at God’s behest’;

A time for child allowances and coalitional politicking, and a time for elections;

A time to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and a time to fight it; a time to build settlements, and a time to evacuate; a time to withdraw from territory, and a time to maintain the status quo;

A time for economic growth, and a time for recession;

A time to vote for ‘change’ and a time to choose experience…

But what happens when our kings are no more, and the heavens are silent?

And us mere mortals are unsure as to what actions the current time requires?