This year will be the 75th anniversary of the State of Israel. It should be a joyous occasion. Soon it will be Passover. Unfortunately, it appears that right now in Israel there is little joy. Instead, there is a country split apart. At the time of this writing, Yoav Gallant, the Defense Minister who asked that the vote for law be put on hold, was fired by the Prime Minister. The Defense Minister is no leftist. He is a member of the Likud Party, the same party as the Prime Minister. Also, the Consul General in New York, Asaf Zamir, resigned in protest to the law, and all Israeli embassies have closed for one day in protest. There are also strikes by various unions.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, in Israel when a prime minister proposes unpopular legislation, it can lead to the government falling. Netanyahu, on Monday March 27, when faced with such opposition, decided to put the plan on hold until April 30, after the Parliamentary recess. If he then attempts to continue pushing the legislation as currently proposed, I would not be shocked if his government falls, and new elections are called. In contrast, in the United States, the president has a four-year term. Thus, one bad idea does not cause chaos and new elections.
Now on to my other story. As my regular readers know, we have two Guinea pigs, Oreo and Squirrel. Oreo is now five-and-a-half years old and Squirrel is probably a year and a half. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed that Oreo was eating less and was less active. Then he started to have breathing issues. At the same time, Squirrel, who is more active, also started to eat less and was less active. I was concerned that maybe both of them were sick. However, I decided to only bring Oreo to the vet. I was told by the vet that Oreo has an enlarged heart. He was proscribed Furosemide (Lasix), which is also prescribed to individuals with heart issues. Unlike a person, Oreo only takes one or two drops due to his weight, which is a little over two pounds. He has slowly gotten better since he began taking the drops. The medication was used up. However, we need to monitor Oreo to see if he may have to be put back on it.
What was fascinating was seeing Squirrel’s reaction. As Oreo has been getting better, Squirrel has also been improving. It is clear that Squirrel’s behavior, which mimicked sick symptoms, was due to his being depressed about his buddy’s situation. Also, Squirrel on occasion has been sleeping in the same hut with Oreo (there are two huts and they usually each choose one). He felt Oreo’s pain. This is something that we can learn from. Do we feel the pain of others regardless of what they are going through, be it a tough time because of illness, family issues, or economic issues? I am not saying that we should act as drastically as Squirrel did by making ourselves ill, but we need to do better. The Torah teaches us to be empathetic.
The idea of acknowledging the pain of others is found in the Haggadah, when we say at the beginning of the Seder, “Let all those who are hungry come in and eat.” It is a little late to invite people to the Seder. I believe that the point is to remind us that on the night of the Seder, which might be the most joyous night of the year, we have to remember those who are less fortunate than we are. We have to temper our excitement because of those who are less fortunate than we are. On some level, we have to feel their pain.