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The Disagreement

Tues 14th Dec 2021

Evelyn now used a walker. Holding on to it, she came to the door and there I stood. After not seeing her for about 2 months I was once again impressed by the same look that she had in her eyes as when I knew her as a young girl of about 19 when we studied together at the Hebrew Teacher’s Seminary in Johannesburg.

This visit was in the framework of a visit to a sick person, but she wasn’t sick, as she told me; she had been entering the bus and before she could get hold of support, the vehicle pulled off and she went flying onto the floor. In that way, hammering her pelvis and causing a slight fracture. Now she had changed her walking stick for a walker that made it easier for her.

Nevertheless, she was smiling, as usual, her eyes were sparkling, her hair had been done up very neatly and she wore a fair isle blue and white sweater and looked quite jolly. She asked me to come in and where I would like to sit; in her apartment or upstairs in the lobby of this home for the aged where she was living, with her invalid husband, Aaron.

He is in a completely immovable state. It’s doubtful whether he understands things that are said to him. He just wore a dumb smile on his face. He is being taken care of by Hubert, a helper or caregiver, such as many people in Israel have when they are incapacitated or too old to take care of themselves.

My mother-in-law, when she was in a weak state and couldn’t take good care of herself, also had a very good caregiver from the Philippines to look after her.

But I mistook Hubert for an Indian because I had Indians on my mind. That morning I had heard about the Miss Universe competition, which had taken place in Eilat, and the winner was Miss India, a pretty girl, I hadn’t seen but I heard on the news she had won the Miss Universe competition.

One can make such a mistake; they are both swarthy-looking. People from the Philippines have a more rounded facial appearance, less sharp nose, a little bit of a bigger mouth, and wide round eyes, whereas I see the Indians, sharp-nosed, thin-mouthed slits for eyes and hair on their face. This fellow, Hubert, who at first I thought was a lady, but when Evelyn said his name is Hubert, I understood he couldn’t be a female, but you never know these days.

Finally, I was thinking of sitting down in that beautiful white easy chair that Evelyn had in her apartment, but thank goodness I didn’t sit down there because Evelyn had been eyeing that chair for herself and she indicated to me to sit on an equally comfortable chair, but it didn’t lean back or roll from side to side like the white leather-covered easy chair that she sat in. I think that kind of chair is called a television chair but she doesn’t have a television in her apartment.

So there we sat, Evelyn and I, two people who had been together in Hebrew Teacher’s College 60 years ago and who hadn’t seen each other for all that time and we had been boyfriend and girlfriend in those days of the Hebrew Teachers College. She had come to live in Israel and had raised a family and I had come to Israel and raised a family and we never saw each other, growing up in the Israeli environment.

Noticing on her table by her side, a book, known as the Twelve Prophets, the Soncino edition in a yellow jacket. I mistook that book for my own because 60 years ago I also purchased a set of Soncino bible with interpretations in English. Here I saw the same book in front of me, exactly with the same cellophane protective covering I’d used. She had done it up the same way as I had and without even seeing the whole I almost picked it up saying, “here is my Soncino, at long last I have found it again”.

I mentioned to her how similar our books were in those days, and she still has this copy.

She got up to make me some coffee or tea, with barley milk. Identifying this as a sign of being a health food fan, like myself, a warm feeling of camaraderie came over me.

A book about health foods, a gift from her granddaughter lay beside the Soncino 12 prophets on her little table. Her family encouraged her penchant for health foods.

The tea tasted good. I carried it to the table, she moved briskly, for someone with a walker, and together we sat down facing each other. Already, while she was making the tea I had mentioned the study of the Tanah, the Bible, and she mentioned that she found Amos, one of the twelve prophets a little depressing, considering his prophecies of the future. That the future of mankind especially of the Jewish people according to Amos looked very dismal and this depressed her.

I of course objected to her way of looking at Amos’s prophecies. The prophet is by no means a fortune teller of future events. This is just my opinion, which is not commonly known. My opinions are known to myself and a few other people who care to listen to them.

The prophet only knows the situation of his generation of 3000 years ago and cannot possibly know anything about us living today. Therefore, he can’t be making a prophecy concerning today’s generation. He is prophesying the future of his generation. His prophecies are threats to his generation. He’s telling his generation what will happen to them, not to us, if they don’t mend their ways. Saying that he is prophesying to our generation is tantamount to saying that the present generation has fallen into the same iniquities as the people of the prophet’s generation.

I don’t agree with this view of our generation and therefore don’t think that his prophecies are applicable today. The prophet envisages an ideal society, which we haven’t attained, but have moved closer to it compared to the prophet’s generation.

The more we got into our discussions, the less sipping of tea I did. At the end of two hours, when the time came to leave, I was very sad that I hadn’t finished, a half-cup was left standing there. I might very well go and look for some tea with oatmeal milk. A strange way to make milk, but the taste was good.

I can’t say that our meeting was very successful. We did not find any points on which we agreed. Take, for example, the Arab, Jewish question, which has been at the center of our existence in Israel, since the inception of the state. She thinks that they should all be gotten rid of, not by killing them, but by sending them out of the country. My philosophy is that we have to learn to live together with them in the midst of their aspirations to achieve independence and their terrorist acts against us.

On this note of disagreement, we parted in friendship. She told me about her daughter-in-law, who writes for a magazine called Arutz 7 and for Besheva, extreme religious Zionist magazines.

When I got home I took the trouble to read an article by her, Hagit Rosenbaum. The article is a diatribe against the policy in secular schools in Israel to teach pupils about other religions, especially Christianity. She’s certain that this policy is a danger to the continuity of observance of Jewish customs and a threat against Jewish unity.

Her concern seems logical, in the light of statistics indicating an increase in assimilation. I’m all in favor of continuing to struggle for the protection of our national unity and identity, But burying our heads in the sand, ostrich fashion, isn’t going to help, on the contrary, the more we encourage open dialogue and the study of those religions, the more we’ll understand how much they are based on lies and bigotry, compared to Judaism and the more proud of our faith we’ll be and we’ll strengthen ourselves in our religion.

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