The spiritual fortitude of the families of the three kidnapped boys is inspiring. It affords Israelis a view of a completely different reality than what they see on tv reality shows.
Suddenly we are exposed to a new, completely different ‘reality show’. A reality of belonging and vision, a reality of sanctity and a great and piercing love of Israel. This is happening here and now, in the midst of the complex and frustrating geo-political reality. Israel’s leadership does not have and never did have an answer. The old reality makes us so small; it cuts us down, humiliates us, chokes us.
Suddenly, the families of the three boys appear on our screens. It is as if they came from a different world, from a completely different consciousness. And we are amazed, and a ray of hope pierces our subconscious. Perhaps from there – from that space – a hand will reach out to us; a hand that is not only loving and powerful, but also guides and directs us; takes responsibility and leads.
As author and humorist Ephraim Kishon wrote almost forty years ago in his essay, “The Generation of the Knitted Kippot”:
“We breathe a sigh of relief when we see a knitted kippah. In truth, when we see a friendly face, we probably look for the kippah atop it. You may ask, how does a joker like me show such serious enthusiasm for a sector that is so humorless? Forgive me, but I am not enthusiastic; I am simply surrendering to the facts. Obviously, the power of ideas and the power of people are measured – not in times of success, but in times of recession and setbacks.”
Yes, this subconscious anticipation did not begin this week. Kishon identified and expressed it almost forty years ago.
But the knitted kippah ideology turned out to be connected to reality strictly on its passive side. The knitted kippot did not settle the Land before the leftist Shomer Hatzair did so. (Yes, yes – the first settlements in the Golan Heights and Sinai after the Six Day War were established by the ideological Left). Knitted kippah ideology is motherly ideology: Father builds the home, brings sustenance and takes responsibility for what happens outside its walls. Mother takes responsibility for what happens inside the home. She prepares the meals, educates her children and comforts them. (I know, sometimes the roles are reversed.)
The horrifying reality of the past week highlighted the knitted kippah ideology in its precise place – in the mothering place – for the entire nation.
But it is the nature of crises to dim and go over; to be replaced by the next crisis. In between crises, we also need a father.
It is impossible to function without a father. The mentality that nurtures this amazing mother is expected to produce a father, as well. And when the reality is so difficult and frustrating and the father is not there to take responsibility, the anticipation turns into anger.
That is what happened to Religious Zionism in the forty years that have passed since Kishon wrote “The Generation of the Knitted Kippot”. The anticipation for leadership turned into anger and estrangement toward the father who was evading his responsibility – actually, his leadership.
When the current crisis will blow over, the empathy will be forgotten and the frustration and anger will come back to the fore. The media will once again hurry to portray the knitted kippas as mosque burners and as the enemy, just like the Hizbollah. The sword of destruction will once again threaten Kfar Etzion – even the yeshivah of the abducted boys.
Because this anger is valid. We need a father to lean on. It is high time that the knitted kippah community takes responsibility and leads.