Jewish Journal

The Blessing of Truth

by Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz

January 3, 2013 | 7:41 am

Convincing others to support Israel sometimes feels like banging my head against the wall.  What’s the point?  Those who support Israel seem to do it always and those who don’t support Israel seem to do that always.  My friends, most of whom are reasonably smart Jews, say things to me like “Of course the Palestinians are wrong.  But aren’t we too?  What about the settlements?”

This past week, the Torah Scroll contained no space to indicate the beginning of Parshat VaYechi.  Rashi explains this lack of space as a reflection of the “closed” nature of Jacob’s sons. Presumably, the sons saw the changing times in Egypt, recognized the forthcoming challenges and “closed down.”  We learn the exact opposite from Jacob, and Joseph for that matter.  Challenging lives taught them to remain open to people around them, to the world around them, and to G-d.

And then the big break in the text…  This week a big space appears between the Book of Genesis and the Book of Exodus.  It is a wide “openness” that marks the beginning of Moses’ narrative.  After all, for most of his life Moses finds himself caught between incredible forces: G-d, Pharoah, and the Jewish People.  Yet, he always remains open.  He remains open to a relationship with G-d.  He also remains open to the Jewish People, whom he serves from morning until night.

During this election season in Israel, when I think that the divide between American and Israeli Jews appears wider than ever, when I think that there’s no point to defending Israel’s actions any longer, I woke up yesterday morning to find a startling article on JPost.com: “‘Wash. Post’: Settlements not main peace obstacle.”   I encourage everyone to read it.  (http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=298171)

What?!  Settlements not to blame?  Could that be true?  Could we be starting 2013 off on an uncomfortable media position of truth?  Could Dennis Ross and Condoleezza Rice and others be right in their assessment that there is no Palestinian State, not because of the Israeli settlements, but because the Palestinians have NO LEADER capable of making peace?

These glimpses of truth unlock my “closed” frustration.  It inspires me to continue convincing all people that Israel’s existence betters their lives — all of our lives.  The truth gives me hope that Israel, the blessing of the State of Israel, will be there for my children and their children and all of their generations to follow.  I don't want my children to look at Israel and let frustration or fear or misguided blame "close down" their passion for the Jewish State.  I want them to understand the truth, because the truth allows people to overcome fear.

Jacob’s life might have been difficult.  His sons might have even made it more difficult for him.  However, in the end, he blessed them — with truth.  In this new secular year, let’s look at the world open to the possibility of truth, without the fallacy of moral equivalence.  If not for yourself, do it for your children and their children.  After all, they will all be the Children of Israel.

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Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz is thrilled to serve as the Rabbi of Adat Shalom in West Los Angeles.  Since Nolan’s arrival, Adat Shalom has presented innovative programming, has...

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