Sometimes there seemed to be a real mood of joy, but there was always a nagging doubt that old problems would surface again and turn the celebration into a mockery. Sometimes there was a feeling of hope, but so often it would be shattered by a “pestilence that walked in darkness or a destruction that wasted at noonday” (Psalm 91:6). External events were bad enough but there were always internal problems too.
The question that needs to be asked is whether we should not defer the annual celebration of Israel’s birth to the time, if it comes, when everything would be perfect.
It is an understandable thought, but quite alien to Jewish thinking. Jews always believed, always hoped, always prayed. They said: “Crisis or no crisis, is that any reason to forget the blessings we enjoy even in an imperfect society?”
This year we may be on the verge of a breakthrough to overcome at least part of the crisis, both external and internal. But regardless, we have ample reason to thank God and to salute Israel – to say to the world, and to remind ourselves, that Israel has achieved wonders. It is one of the smallest states on earth, but its contribution to science, culture, human creativity, and the sum of earthly ethics and sheer exhilaration is massive and inspiring.
The whole world, if it were really fair, would send Israel a big birthday card.