From Start-up Nation
Dadi Perlmutter recalls the shock of an American colleague when he witnessed Israeli corporate culture for the first time.
"When we all emerged [from our meeting], red faced after shouting, he asked me what was wrong. I told him, Nothing. We reached some good conclusions.' "
That kind of heated debate is anathema in other business cultures, but for Israelis it's often seen as the best way to sort through a problem. "If you can get past the initial bruise to the ego," one American investor in Israeli start-ups told us, "it's immensely liberating. You rarely see people talk behind anybody's back in Israeli companies. You always know where you stand with everyone. It does cut back on the time wasted on bullshit.
When we asked Major General Farkash why Israel's military is so antihierarchical and open to questioning, he told us it was not just the military but Israel's entire society and history. "Our religion is an open book," he said, in a subtle European accent that traces back to his early years in Transylvania. The "open book he was referring to was the Talmud, a dense recording of centuries of rabbinic debates over how to interpret the Bible and obey its laws- and the corresponding attitude of questioning is built into Jewish religion, as well as into the national ethos of Israel.
As Israeli author Amos Oz has said, Judaism and Israel have always cultivated a culture of doubt and argument, an open-ended game of interpretations, counter-interpretations, reinterpretations, opposing interpretations. From the very beginning of the existence of the Jewish civilization, it was recognized by its argumentativeness."
Law Court Pattern of Prayer - Arguing with God Motif
the Israelite version of the law- court pattern were complaints and charges allowable against God Himself. Second, use of the law-court pattern indicated a certain frame of mind that manifested a highly personalized approach to the problem of the individual's and the nation's fate. Third, the legal controversy between man and God had its basis in an active and personalistic relationship, which in turn was based upon a radically monotheistic faith. (In polytheism, objections to one's fate could easily be rationalized by attributing one's misfortune to the power of another god.) Fourth, the use of the law-court pattern revealeda decidedly ethical, normative conception of God and His relationship with humankind based upon the assumption of a divinely-instituted moral order in the world. Tzedakah, justice, was the name given to this order and it remains the fundamental concept of the Jewish ethicoreligious world-view. Only in this context could the individual appeal to God to set things right because it presupposed that there is an order of things to which even God must adhere in His relationship with the individual, the nation, and the world.l
The Berditchever called over a tailor and asked him to relate his argument with God on the day before. The tailor said: "1 declared to God: You wish me to repent of my sins, but I have committed only minor offenses: I may have kept leftover doth, or I may have eaten in a non-Jewish home, where I worked, with- out washing my hands.
"But You, O Lord, have committed grievous sins: You have taken away babies from their mothers, and mothers from their babies. Let us be quits: may You forgive me, and I will forgive You."
Said the Berditchever: "Why did you let God off so easily? You might have forced Him to redeem all of Israel!
I love my sad God.
my brother refugee.
love to sit down on a stone with him
and tell him everything wordlessly
because when we sit like this, both
our thoughts flow together
in silence. .
My poor God,
how many prayers I've profaned,
how many nights I've
and warmed my frightened bones
at the furnace of the intellect.
And here he sits, my friend, his arm around
sharing his last crumb.
The God of my unbelief is magnificent,
now that he's human and unjust.
how I love my unhappy God,
How exalted is this proud pauper
now that the merest child rebels
against his word.
Jacob Glatstein god and poet as DP refugees
Shall we perhaps begin anew, small and toddling.
with a small folk?
We two, homeless wandering among the nations.
Shall we perhaps go home now, you and I, to begin again, small from the beginning?
Begin once more! Be the small God of a small
Go back, beloved God, go back to a small people!...
You will become closer to us,
and together we shall spin new laws,
more suitable for you and for us.
Shall we perhaps begin anew,
small and toddling,
to grow with the growing borders
of a blessed land?.
Shall we perhaps go home, you and I?
Shall we perhaps, uncongquering, go home?..
Save yourself! Together with the pilgrims,
return to a small land.
Become once more the small God
of a small people.
For the first time, I felt revolt rise up in me. Why should I bless His name? The eternal, Lord of the Universe, the All-Powerful and Terrible, was silent. What had I to thank Him for?!
Never shall I forget that night.. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies l saw turned into wreathes of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumned my faith forever. .
Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never.
How I sympathized with Job! I did not deny God's existence, but I doubted His absolute justice.
Elie Wiesel NIGHT