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My wife and I have just returned from an extensive trip in the United States.I was in the New York area, Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, Georgia, Norfolk, Virginia and Boca Raton and Miami, Florida.I need a good rest after this exertion. However, the greatest discomfort caused by this type of an itinerary is the necessity to constantly pack and unpack one's luggage and drag it along with you through the enormous airports and innumerable security checks which so characterize air travel today.


As I am sure everyone else is similarly perplexed, I cannot decide on what to take along in my luggage as I pack my suitcases before the trip. As a result of my indecision, I invariably take along much that I will not wear nor actually use once I reach my appointed destination. If there is the slightest glimmer of a possibility that I may actually need or use the item on my trip, into the suitcase it goes. And as I pack again to finally and blissfully return home to Israel, I ruefully view my suitcase and its belongings and note that a considerable portion of its contents lies there before me undisturbed from its original arrival to the United States.


As always, I resolve that on my next trip I will only take along those limited number of items that are truly necessary for the trip. Even as I make this resolution, I am already aware of the little voice inside of me that whispers "take it along with you anyway. One never knows when somehow you may make use of it on this trip." Hard as I try to stifle that annoying voice, it always seems to revisit me as I prepare for the next trip.

All of this has set me to ponder the issue of the superfluous baggage that the Jewish people here in Israel seem anxious to continue dragging around even if the contents of that luggage are long since irrelevant, wrong and downright harmful to our cause and tranquility of spirit.

Much of what is going on here in Israel is simply the product of unnecessary and unwanted baggage that came to Israel with the various waves of both pre-and post-state aliyah. The Eastern European Jewish society of the pre-Holocaust period was rife with bitter disputes, disparate ideologies and dangerous illusions and even occasional violence. The struggle between the Left wing ideologies amongst themselves and then against the mainstream establishment Jews, the controversies regarding Zionism and secularism, and the competing trends and movements within the religious Jewish world, all should by now have somehow been mitigated by the events of the last seventy years of Jewish history. Unfortunately, they have not been so mitigated and lie within our luggage as active and unnecessary as they were before we embarked upon our latest historical journey.

Why is Zionism still an issue almost sixty years after the State of Israel came into being? How can one still believe in Socialism, Marxism, Communism, etc. after Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the like destroyed over one hundred fifty million people for the fulfillment of Marx' impossible scheme of world order? Why should Jews continue to rail against the Torah and its practitioners after the Torah has proven its strength and resiliency amongst Jews over and over again in the near and distant past? Why attempt to import the ills of Reform and Conservative brands of Judaism to Israel after they have been proven to be dismal failures in the Diaspora? I think that our luggage needs a thorough cleansing and much of the bathwater of the Exile should gladly be discarded and dumped. We really do not need these matters with us any longer.

When the Jews came to Israel over the last two hundred years it is understandable that they may have brought with them more luggage than necessary. In fact, if one stands today at the luggage carousels at Ben Gurion Airport, one will be easily convinced that this case of too much luggage is still present amongst us. Yet, it should be a goal of ours to discard what is not at all necessary, if not downright harmful to us, from our collective national possessions. Much of the bathwater of the Exile, its disputes and disappointments, should not be allowed to linger amongst us. We should travel light and take with us the spirit, values and experiences of Jewish life in all of its positive modes and discard the negativism and strife that so depresses our world and dampens our hopes. Only then can we be sure that we have packed our suitcases correctly for the journey that yet lies ahead.

Shabat shalom.
Berel Wein

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