In a very large nation like America, spread wide across a continent between two oceans, it is difficult to sense that society is a single woven fabric, where each strand affects and either strengthens or weakens the whole. When an American soldier is injured or killed, it is but a stranger in a faraway place like Afghanistan or Iraq, and a mere notice in a paper.
But it is not so in a tiny country like Israel. Here our soldiers, both young men and women, are in our streets, sipping coffee in our cafes with their weapons slung, daily protecting our streets and guarding our check points, and serving on all fronts, which are only a few kilometers away from our homes. When one is wounded or killed it is felt by the entire nation as one of our sons and daughters.
In the now multi-cultural and politically correct America, one may be accosted for harassment for saying ‘God bless you,’ whereas here the parking lot attendant may greet you with ‘shevach l’el!’ (praise be to God!), or the waitress in the pub may greet your query as to her day, ‘baruch Hashem’ (blessed is the Lord). And the men seated in the pub sipping their brews share a common unspoken bond knowing that each has served in the dangers of protecting our little nation against her destroyers. There is a long collective memory among the Jewish people, whether religious or secular, especially here in the Land of Israel where the Bible speaks from every stone and hilltop, city and waterway.
Though opinions vary here to the point of boiling, there is little violence between Israelis, as we know that our enemies lie outside, round about us. Sadly not so today in America, where meaningless mass murders occur with an alarming frequency from coast-to-coast, with no awareness of any common external enemy, and really no common purpose. For many there is no purpose left, and nothing larger or greater than the Self and its many appetites.
The recent public display of ripping up of the American president’s State of the Union speech by the Speaker of the House is a sad indication not only of a single hateful and infantile act, but of the ripping apart of the social fabric of America. The degeneration and decadence of restraints and laws reveals the truth that what each thread in a fabric does affects the entire weave. The question then arises as to how many torn and worn threads a society can sustain before the fabric unravels and the rip becomes R.I.P., as history has repeatedly shown to have occurred in the past. Or if the salt of the earth will retain its saltiness to preserve such a society.