By Daniel Chejfec
This past week I had to change my car. As guys know and women laugh at, men tend to develop an attachment to their cars, and my case is not different. I LOVED my car, and I only changed it because I had no choice since keeping it would have been more expensive than changing it. This sounds like rambling, but stay with me.
Emotional attachment to inanimate objects is indeed not exclusive of men nor is it a new phenomenon. People got attached through history to their horses, to their houses, to their countries, etc. But are we really attached to the material objects themselves? or is it there something else? When we say "sacred ground" or "holy land", are we talking about the dirt itself? I don't think so.
The Western wall in the Old City of Jerusalem is a pile or rocks marking the western edge of the Temple mount, and at the same time is considered the holiest shrine of Judaism. A wall? To make it even more puzzling, there is the song about Jerusalem written after the six day war containing the phrase "there are people with hearts of stone and there are stones with Human hearts", referring to the Kotel (Western Wall). Come again? This defies logic and it represents a crude animistic perception of a building - and yet, it is a Truth !
I don't believe the holiness resides in the stones itself, but the holiness derives from the many generations of Jews who prayed at the site over the centuries. It became a replacement for the Holy of Holies from which Jews were forbidden, and yet the tears, and the laughers, and the hopes the Jews deposited in those stones over the generations made them every bit as holy as the ancient Temple. So you see, the holiness, or the emotional attachment, does not reside in the objects but in the accumulated memories associated with the place or the object. I didn't love my car because it had four wheels, but because for nine years I used it to go to many places; for nine years it was an integral part of my daily life.
And the same is truth for land and country. Israel is important for Jews not because is a piece of land - Uganda would have done as well for that - but because it is the place where Jewish identity developed originally; it is the land that is associated with our calendar, with our holidays, with our history. The attachment, as any emotional behavior, is illogical from a strictly intellectual point of view. Yet as Human beings we also posses emotional intelligence, and there is therefore something akin to "emotional logic", and it is connected to our intellect in more ways than we dare to acknowledge.
Our sages said "Mi Hu Givor? HaKovesh et Itzro" - "Who is strong? The one who controls his (or her) passions". In other words, our tradition acknowledges that passion - emotions - are an integral part of who we are not less than our intellectual selves.
The State of Israel was built as a collective enterprise of the Jewish people and grew on the efforts, the tears and the blood of the Jews. That makes Israel as a Jewish State central to the Jewish experience - not the political, military or economic prowess of the country, but the personal investment of generations of Jews and the collective dedication of the people to restore sovereignty to the ancient homeland. Emotional appeal? YOU BET!
So I got a new car, and I'm happy about it, after all it is more reliable, more gadgets, safer, etc etc. But you know what? I still miss my old car...