Day 4 – Identity
On Friday I wrote a blog post about our adventure and shared it on Facebook. One of the comments I received was that what I was doing would portray my spiritual journey with settler identity. I don’t know why that comment irked me so much, but I am sure it had to do with my incessant effort to be identified as a religious Jew without any labels or boxes. So it got me thinking about identity.
Shabbat is really an amazing time to think, without all the distractions of work, internet, etc. And all the more so when you are “camping”. So I thought and I thought.
What is identity?
To some degree it is a cultural construct, a human answer to the G-d given drive to connect. While it expresses itself differently in different cultures, the commonality is that we all need to be “somebody”, it’s a component of one of the basic human needs. Now, if you come from a group oriented culture (like Israel or the Far East) it will look different than if you come from an individual oriented culture (like America). But even in an individual oriented culture, humans have a need to connect with others and to contribute and in order to do these two things, we have to have identity.
So who or what decides my identity? The answer should be, “I do”. I should be the one who determines what defines me. Because to let others decide what defines me is to give up my own personal sovereignty. Like letting a stranger drive my car while I sit in the back seat – the person driving the car neither cares about where I am going nor about getting me there without destroying my car – why would we want to live our lives that way?
Others do not define my identity, I do. I talk a lot about this in my personal growth workshops, asking the question, “Who are you?”
Today at the hill was very busy. There were a lot of visitors, including 3 different journalists. The first were from Australian news. I was with Nadia when they did the interview, it was fascinating listening to her speak about why this is happening and about ideas for the best way to achieve peace.
The second journalist is working on a documentary for “Yes” called, “The Settlers”. After interviewing Nadia, he interviewed me for a long time, not only about why my husband and I were camping out here, but about my spiritual journey as well – he arrived just as I was dictating an announcement Nadia was putting out about me telling my story here.
So if you are in the area, I will be, B”EH, telling my story here on Givat Oz V’Gaon tomorrow (Monday) at 6pm. Its for men and women, its in English, and as far as I know, there will be activities for children, although you need to check with Nadia for details on that.
At the end of the interview, I was asked if I consider myself a settler. That word is so loaded with meaning depending on your worldview. I recently learned that the Hebrew word translated as “settler” is mitnachel, which comes from the word “nachala” which means an inheritance.
In other words, a settler isn’t a cowboy or an occupier, it is an inheritor.
So, when the interviewer asked me if I am a settler, I said, “no”. I am just a Jew who loves G-d, the Torah, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel and I don’t like boxes. I am just here claiming my inheritance.
So who am I?
I am a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother and a grandmother.
I am a Jewish woman who loves G-d, the Jewish people, the Torah and the Land of Israel.
I am a Jewish woman who has been on an incredible spiritual journey and who loves to inspire other Jewish people to love being Jewish and to develop and intimate relationship with Hashem. I have sovereignty over my own identity.
Now that’s an interesting word. It means having complete autonomy, when applied to a country, it means that the country has the authority to govern itself. Something that every country in the world has, except Israel.
Israel is the only country in the world that is always being told what to do. When there is civil war in Sudan or Syria, the nations of the world keep silent. “Let them sort it out themselves” they say. But when Israel has internal issues to deal with, the rest of the world tells us what to do.
Why is that? Why can the world not just leave us alone to be the sovereign nation that we are. I believe that it’s based on fear. But the real question is more like what would it take for us to be allowed to be the sovereign nation that we are? I believe that what it would take is for us to get out of the backseat, kick out the driver and take the wheel for ourselves. When we can finally do that, just like a person, we would finally see peace.
May we all merit to see that peace in our days, speedily, soon.