The truth about the elderly and the young

The Israeli week that was.

Sivan Rahav Meir ,

Sivan Rahav meir,
Sivan Rahav meir,
צילום: עצמי


Perhaps more than anything else, the Knesset’s trivial decision says something about the times we live in. This week the Labor and Welfare Committee approved MK Nachman Shai’s proposal which determines that the term “old age stipend” will be changed to “senior citizen stipend.” Soon the Knesset plenum will approve that too.

Why? Because being old is not good. It’s insulting to even use the word. It’s better to worship the young and to cover up your age as much as possible. Nachman Shai is not to blame; it’s the spirit of our times. Once it was an honor to be the elder of the tribe; there are communities where this is still the case.

“An elderly person – is one who has acquired wisdom,” our Sages declared, and they were right. “You should rise in front of a venerable person and you shall respect the elderly,” it says in the Torah. Maybe soon we’ll update this verse too and we’ll say “and you shall respect the senior.”


Here’s something else that characterizes the post-truth era: Fake-news and alternative facts. Everyone comes already-convinced from home and just adapts the facts to his pre-conceived notions. It’s been happening over and over again recently.

The wave of fires and arson also ignited a public discussion that has not yet been extinguished. The Fire and Rescue Authority’s report didn’t convince anyone that they were in the wrong. Whoever previously thought that it was a wave of terror-motivated arson found the relevant data there, and whoever wanted to claim that everyone who was arrested was released and that the weather was to blame – could also justify his point based on exactly the same report. This repeated itself with the terror attack on the Armon Hanatziv promenade.

Whoever wanted to claim that it was the “Elor Azariya effect” that made the soldiers flee found a soldier’s post that echoed his position perfectly, and whoever wanted to claim otherwise could rely on a post of one of the soldiers who did shoot. No video clip from the scene will budge us from our pre-conceived notion. This week this modus operandi operated around the unfamiliar Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran. The driver immediately became either a terrorist or a victim, and it turns out that even a pathologist's report can be interpreted any which way we want.

All of this will turn public discussion into a sad and very boring affair. We’ll be able to write all the reactions of all the sides ahead of time.


In the Talmud it says that if a Sanhedrin (Rabbinical Court of Temple times) of 23 judges decided unanimously to convict someone – this is a reason to acquit him. Yes, yes, if they all think alike, then apparently there’s a problem. If we can’t find even one member of the council who is able to judge him favorably, perhaps social pressure was applied. Perhaps public opinion or the media influenced everyone to favor only one point of view. Something here is not logical. What, no one thinks differently? Everyone just falls into line?

This is the feeling nowadays when you listen to all the talk against Trump. Yes, I am aware of his many shortcomings and they bother me a lot too, but Hollywood’s unified chorus and the liberal circles who have been coming out against him in total agreement is a bit strange. He didn’t take the White House by force, he was voted in by law. His millions of voters have their own conservative and traditional values.

They’re not the riffraff of society, they have a legitimate worldview. How is it that there’s not even one voice, here in Israel as well, that’s asking: Perhaps we’ve taken our liberalism too far? Maybe we need to accept the democratic rules of the game, even when the results don’t fit into our worldview? Maybe we went to the enlightened extreme, and we need to return to the values of identity and tradition?


Three important though not dazzling figures passed away recently and were not sufficiently eulogized: Professor Dan Caspi z’l (71) was an important communications researcher who had to cope with CP. By example, he taught many people not only the material he wrote but how to move forward and cope with difficulties as well. Professor Zeev Tzachor z’l (75) was a historian and had served as Ben Gurion’s secretary.

Like his boss, at the end of his life he worked to make the Negev and periphery flourish, founded Sapir College and was its president. Rabbi Menashe Eichler (88) was a Haredi member of the Lehi (Fighters for the Freedom of Israel in Mandatory Palestine) and father of MK Yisrael Eichler (UTJ). In the underground they used to tell of how he participated in a battle to free the neighborhood of Ein Kerem in Jerusalem on Shabbat, but returned home on foot, in order not to desecrate Shabbat when it was not a matter of life and death.

Three families sat shiva for three one-time people who had exceptional life stories, members of the previous generation. It looks like we’re – don’t tell Nachman Shai – getting old.


Minister of Education Naftali Bennett called an emergency discussion this week about children and cell phones. Here’s one testimony from the field that I received in my email. This is what Shmulik Klein, spokesman for the Amit Educational Network, wrote: “At one moment during the evening, I wanted to give a virtual hug to all of the teachers in the country. I wound up at a basketball game in Arena for the EuroCup."

"My son, a sixth grade student who loves basketball, plays well in the minor league in Efrat, is a fan of Hapoel Jerusalem and tries to drag me to their games. In our house they also know Bibi’s overly used yet effective slogan “if they give – they’ll get.” That’s why if he tries hard in his studies (Gemara, math and English) and really gets into it, he gets tickets to the game. This time the tickets were for excellent seats, row 10 (170 NIS per ticket) and Hapoel played an excellent game. But what really amazed me were three children who sat in front of us and for most of the time, were playing Tetris or the like on their smartphones (I’m not a maven in those games).

"An entire stadium is on its feet, it’s a game in the second round of the EuroCup, Hapoel Jerusalem defeated Nizhny Novgorod 76:98 and the kids are on their smartphones. In the weekly parsha we’ve been reading about the enslavement in Egypt, but today we are also enslaved and we need to free ourselves.

"So I took a picture of those children (from the back – so you can’t identify them) during one of the game’s climactic moments and in my opinion – every parent should see this picture because it portrays a harsh reality, and this is only the beginning. After I saw those children – in their own bubble – I thought to myself: If Lior Eliyahu and Yotam Halperin who bring tens of thousands of fans to Arena in a spectacular game don’t manage to interest them more than the screen – what should a teacher in a classroom do to make them listen, look at him and momentarily lift their eyes from the screen? Dear teachers, a very big thanks, kudos to you.”

Photo caption: The photo Shmulik Klein took at the game in the Arena.

The Jewish Status: “The exodus from Egypt is not a historical event, it’s reality, and it is not a one-time event, it’s ongoing. We leave Egypt all the time, and every time we imagine that we went from slavery to freedom, we must not suffice with that, but we must try again to reach the next level and from there once again to go out to freedom.“ (The Lubavitcher Rebbe)

* The column is from "Yediot Aharonot" and was translated by Shoshana Silver. Sivan Rahav Meir is a broadcaster on Israel's Channel 2 news.