'Don't believe Crime Minister Netanyahu' projected on UN building in New York
'Don't believe Crime Minister Netanyahu' projected on UN building in New YorkCourtesy

Rabbi (Judah Hanassi) would say: Which is the right path for man to choose for himself? Whatever is harmonious for the one who does it, and harmonious for mankind. (Ethics of the Fathers 1:1)

It is late afternoon, and I am sipping coffee in a garden. That late hour, before the sun will set, before the family will gather. In a sanctuary of pink and green, I watch as wild birds soar overhead, proclaiming the lingering majesty of the day, before the incoming darkness.

And then I notice the leaves on a tree. An enchanting wall of varying shades of green, carefully pruned the day before. And among the dusky leaves, upon branches which are open now a bit to the sun, pure drops of light can be seen.

Sparkles of light glisten as diamonds among the darkening green foliage. I simply watch, in awe and wonder. For it is that time of year. A time of pruning. A time of introspection, of change, of growth. A time of removing from our thoughts, from our actions that which may be harming others. A time of removing from our lives that which may be hindering our spiritual growth. A time of cutting back, cutting away.

What is behind the veil, beyond the mystery of our human imperfection, beyond our grasp? Somewhere within, there is a gentle sparkle.

It is that time of year, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. When our fate is being decided, our portion for the coming year decreed. These are the Days of Awe, in which we think of one another, we try to make peace among ourselves before facing the Day of Judgement. We are engaged in repentance, in prayer, our hearts and thoughts turned upward.

And just this week, a delegation including the Head of State of Israel has arrived in New York, my home town. There they are being met by Israelis and Americans of our faith, carrying flags of Israel, in opposition to the distinguished representatives.

That is, in opposition to the State of Israel.

I find myself absolutely speechless. I cannot comprehend, the images are disturbing, quite shocking.

Though a vocal minority, Jews in my city of origin, most of them Israeli yordim, in the land which was so cherished by my parents (of blessed memory) are expressing public animosity towards the State of Israel. I am grateful that my parents did not see this in their lifetimes. Somewhere within is a dismayed disbelief, that I myself have lived to see this.

In this week’s Parsha we read: “For they are a nation devoid of counsel, and they have no understanding”(Deut.32:28)

Have we so quickly forgotten the fragility of our very existence? The miraculous nature of our daily life here in Israel?

And then I remember. Our existence in Israel is a gift from Heaven, a promise, a blessing. It will not be endangered by mere slander. By a view which defames the pride, the love, the support which Our People feel towards Israel. For we are one. We are One today, as we have been One throughout the centuries, with our hearts and dreams and prayers toward Jerusalem.

In these days of Repentance, there is a heightened possibility of a change in the apparent darkness of our current situation. And we are reminded of our eternal, invincible connection to the Land of Israel.

“Remember the days of old, reflect upon the years of generations. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will inform you. When the most High gave nations their lot, when He separated the sons of man, He set up the boundaries of peoples, according to the number of the children of Israel. Because the Lord’s portion is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance… “(Deut. 32:7-9)

Words have power. It is with the Word that Life Itself was created. It is with a word that one’s life can be destroyed. Perhaps for this reason, our hearts are touched on these days of Return, not only by words, but also by the sounding of the Shofar.

Which, wordlessly, reminds us.

We are now in the Ten Days in which hearts are moved, fate overturned. The present reality may be only fleeting, temporary.

As it is written, ”Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not maintain His anger forever, for He desires loving-kindness… You shall give the truth of Jacob, the lovingkindness of Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from days of yore.”(Micah 7:18-20)

In the calm and melancholy warmth of evening, I am sitting in a garden. Sun’s rays are glistening insistently and stubbornly among the leaves of the darkening foliage, delivering their message of hope.

A rooster is calling. Apparently he too is confused, not quite sure if it is morning or afternoon. But here, in the Land of Promise, it is always morning. At any time of day we have the awareness of potential, the prospect of a new beginning, of rebirth and reawakening. The rooster echoes that feeling with his insistent cries.

Reminding us, to listen.

This year, may words be used to form a bridge between our people, to unite our hearts and thoughts as One.

“Heal us Hashem and we will be healed
Save us and we will be saved
For You are our praise”

May this year be a blessing for peace and goodness.

May we find within the purity of spirit which is our true Source of Life

May we remember who we are, so that song will return.

When the Lord brought the exiles back to Zion we were like those who dream. Our mouth was filled with laughter and our tongue with ringing song. (Psalm 126)

Dr. Devorah Ungaris an American-born scientist and musician.who moved to Israel 30 years ago.