Monday, December 10, 2007

The Playground Too Few Play In

This past Friday night, we had wonderful Shabbos guests – smart, committed, articulate Jewish friends who appear to welcome engaging in discussions about Israel almost as much as I do. Or at least they have great patience with my obsession.

We were talking about how Gd might view the fact that some of us love Israel, really love Israel, from a distance, but aren’t planning to live there anytime soon. My husband, a master of analogies, responded with this:

Imagine you are a wealthy philanthropist. You endow a beautiful playground in a poor neighborhood in your city. Over time, you notice that, although the people of the neighborhood talk a lot about how much they love and appreciate the playground, virtually no children actually use it.

So you, as the wealthy philanthropist, warn the members of the neighborhood that you are going to have the playground dismantled because it is clearly under appreciated. “Oh please, no! Don’t take away our playground!” they plead. “We love it. It’s a highlight of our neighborhood.”

And what might you, the wealthy philanthropist say to those upon whom you’ve bestowed the gift of a lovely playground?

“If you really appreciate it,” you’d say, “don’t just give it lip service. Don’t just tell me how much you like it. Use it! Bring your children there to play. That’s how I will know that my gift is truly appreciated.”

How can our lip service possibly be enough? How can Gd appreciate Tehillim said in groups of 400 Jews who plan to visit Israel every other year, or even every year, but to live, raise their families, and die in Baltimore?

The secular State of Israel isn’t perfect so we prefer to stay in America where things are easier, all the while crying “Uvenei Yerushalayim ir hakodesh. birnheirah ve’yameinu” – rebuild Jerusalem The Holy City rapidly in our lifetimes!

Maybe we’re in jeopardy of having Jerusalem dismantled and given over to our enemies because Jerusalem is Gd’s playground.

Where too few of us want to play.

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