Fifteen years ago one of the major newspapers in Israel published an article about a group of Israeli young people that had banded together to throw off the malaise of material prosperity and meaninglessness, and to renew the “halutz” (pioneering) spirit in Israel by creating a new village of college students in the Negev desert of southern Israel (HaAretz supplement April 23, 2004). The article offered a thrilling glimpse into the soul of the modern young Israelis.
A summary of the Israeli newspaper article
These new “pioneers” saw that Israelis serve in the army for 2 to 3 years and are then thrust into a world that doesn’t give them any further challenge for self-sacrifice. In the absence of a compelling external cause, most of them get mired in the unending cycle of trying to satisfy their own needs and desires. Such an existence is lacking any absolute value framework, and is a dead end street.
These young people saw clearly that their parents and grandparents had worked so hard and fought so sacrificially to protect and build the state of Israel. Yet many ended up telling their children not to “go overboard,” not to be someone else’s fool, but rather to think of their own good, since the country has already been built. However, “when everything is directed only internally, for my own self, there is no happiness.”
After their parents “solved” the immense challenges of protecting and building the state, the young Israelis of our day have largely gone after the Western dream of immediate satisfaction, name brands and image. This band of pioneers in the desert says that such an existence will never bring true satisfaction.
This group also saw the essence of the modern Israeli experience as the Renewal of the people in their land – with their own language, their own right to self defense, freedom and dignity. After that had been achieved to a certain degree, people began wanting to become like any other nation under the sun, like all the other “normal” enlightened and privileged people in the West. These pioneers invited Israeli college students from the Ben Gurion Universtiy in Beer Sheva to join their desert pioneering village, and saw an overwhelming response. Hundreds signed up to join, confirming that all these elements of yearning for struggle, meaning and renewal are pervasive in the young people and simply unrealized.
In the ideology of these pioneers, enjoying some of the finer things in life is not forbidden, but simply part of the path to the destination. When asked what this destination is, the reply was deafening: “A great vacuum has been created, and we are proposing a way TO FILL THE HOLE INSIDE OF US.“
This article in HaAretz provided great encouragement to the Revive Israel team, both in seeing the acknowledged need for meaning on the part of Israeli young people, and in seeing a kind of parallel physical track to what we see as a need in the realm of spiritual pioneering.
Also, the Discipleship Training Center that we formed speaks to the very same needs and goals:
- renewing the pioneering spirit in Israel,
- equipping young people spiritually,
- enhancing connectedness to the land.
Please pray with us that the people of Israel not become “fat and lazy” or “comfortable in Zion,” but rather be continuously provoked to walk into their prophetic calling. This calling includes physically making the desert bloom but certainly does not end there. “For you are a people holy unto the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a treasured nation among all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6, NKJV).
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, February 17, 2019, and reposted with permission.