Just some ranting:
This year’s program was a bit different. Firstly, it was bigger than the ones I attended before. It was also much more diverse. People came, of course, from the States and England as they always come, but this year there was a relatively large group of youngsters from France, one lady from Italy, a couple from South Africa, a very intelligent guy from Mexico and a few from Australia. A larger than usual group was also older than me, giving me an additional comfort of not being completely out of place age-wise. We even had a special lunch for the “elders”, where we all seemed to have shared appreciation at the possibility to mingle and study with people from a different generation, those who were almost literary born in a different world given so much change there is in world outlook, politics, and its very geography. I especially enjoyed being in one class with the guy, older than me, clearly very learned from England, and a girl, who had her first experiences with the text, but whose excitement about it grew with every class. I hope we can all meet again whether learning together, eating together or just because – Pardes really gives you the opportunity to look at the world with a different pair of eyes, even if temporarily, to step out of your own shoes and walk this land with a pair of someone else’s.
Back at home (?) and at work, I am thinking about the world going upside down, my thoughts bringing me back to the carefree time in Jerusalem. Everyday life seems to be throwing things at me for which I am totally not prepared. Conversations go around things that are foreign to me – gender change, upcoming socialism, racism in the form of “let’s kill all the white males”, etc. This is scary. Any great idea can be promoted to build something good, and then usurped to show the angel that was completely not meant to be there making it distorted to no end. More and more I feel outnumbered by the people who embrace radical (to my view) ideas, and more and more I start feeling uncomfortable in this world, where in the name of tolerance intolerable things are being said and done. And I am not the person to be afraid to state my own opinion in the face of an adverse one. To be sure, every person and every party, society, association makes mistakes and has to be allowed to express their views. It is when in a civilized society one view is being completely demonized, we start having problems.
On the other hand, what’s civilized anyway? During the most of Jewish history, people that adhered to the traditions of their forefathers were at best ridiculed, at worst murdered. The societies that did it to them were very civilized – Greeks, Romans, Spaniards, Germans, etc. Does that mean that civilization is always making the right moves? Today, more than ever, I believe we need to be very cautious in promoting things that we think are ok, or even great for our times. Maybe, give it at least a couple of decades worth to prove themselves. Jewish values have been proving themselves for over 3000 years, so let’s give them some benefit of the doubt because calling them outdated and backwards.
Back to Pardes – I am also thinking that maybe the learning atmosphere there is pulling me to it so much, that any little thing here feels like the very air is being cut off from me. I guess I will have to see how I survive the year without Jerusalem. So, here’s to strength and perseverance!