Operation Holy Land: Ahlah Activities for the Intermediate Days

By David Herz

Posted on Oct 11, 2019 by in Practices, Structure, Success, Improvement

Hey there friends. I reproduce here a post that I sent to my community group. The thing is it's right for wherever you are. It's addressed to Jews, but I don't think it really matters. We all can be a light unto the world.

Operation “Holy Land”

Every time you go out, leave the places you move through improved for your having been there.

My pet peeve is garbage, so I invite you to pick some up, but you are welcome to add any act you that allows you to share your love for this land with someone else.

I'm of the strong belief that the physical manifestation of this is extremely powerful. Think of your experience when you enter a well-kept home, or synagogue, or even park. Now think of it as others enter your country.

“The Holy Land” Game

Every park or public place you visit, take plastic bags, and maybe even some gloves. Have your children see who can collect more. As a bonus opportunity. take an extra bag for deposit bottles, and don't stop until you have picked up at least ten sheqel worth, for which the winning child can designate the recipient.

Operation “Home Sweet Home, Bet Rimon”

Pick your own special area of Bet Rimon, starting with in front of your house, and make a commitment to keeping it clean. Wonderful places to start would be around your own garbage can, the utility nook it often sits in, around public garbage cans, bus stops (even the public bus stops and the spaces around them at the bottom of the hill), a special stairway, path, playground or green space, a part of your exercise trek, or the place you work.

Operation “Self Respect, Bet Rimon”

A psychologist I follow suggests that you shouldn't let your children do anything that makes you dislike them. While I think this is great advice for raising children, I think there might also be something in this for our conduct towards others.

(And I know my bare-footedness bothers others, and I guess it's my protest against sandaled feet (with socks, even worse), the ragged tee-shirts, gym clothes, pajama wearing, bare-legged or sweat pants wearing standard (or complete lack of standard except not having bare feet), and I don't know what to do with that exactly.)

I alluded to this in my previous post about not having your kids use the synagogue as their playground, but it goes so far beyond this.

So the invite here is to look at the things you do, and try to see them through other's eyes. And if you are doing things, or permitting things to be done by your children that would cause others to dislike you, consider adjusting your behavior.

The “This Land is My Land” Game

Treat every space like it's your own personal holy/special space.

If someone tracked mud into your house, you probably wouldn't just leave it there saying “But I didn't do it.” And if a dog did his business on your patio, you'd probably also clean it up.

Here, I invite you to take on Bet Rimon like it's your own home, your special space. And then extend it to every place you visit in this Holy Land.

The “No Obstacles” Game

It's said that the emotion that Hitler appealed to was disgust. You don't exterminate something you hate. You exterminate vermin, something that carries disease, something that you are instantly repulsed by.

Consider that we have an obligation to be a light unto the nations. Consider further that people may find it particularly difficult to listen to those who repulse them.

The problem with this game is that it requires us to know that which others find offensive. And in some cases (those who rejected the bourgeois ways of their homelands when they came to settle Israel come particularly to mind), to reacquaint ourselves with that which we once rejected.

To play this game requires you to live into the sometimes unreasonable expectations of others, but first to be aware of them.

When a relative of mine passed through Germany on her way to the United States from Israel once, my German uncle invited her to leave the dining room table and eat in the kitchen, saying “I know you didn't learn those manners in your mother's house.”

He was kind enough to say so. Others would not be, and maybe if you had something really good, they might still do business with you, but it might be business with those boorish mid-easterners. They might come to overlook your uncouth ways, but I suspect a bit of their first impression would always linger.

The invitation here is to learn, and practice. Maybe how you introduce yourself, whose hand you shake first, your timeliness (and I know I've what to perfect here too), and how you sit at the table can have an impact, perhaps even profound, on how the world sees us, and therefore how it receives our message.

The most simple interpretation is good here: “Don't step over a piece of garbage if you can pick it up.”

But we can extend this also to conduct unbecoming a Jew. I know rebuke is fraught with concern over how delivered, but anyone who puts us in a bad light diminishes it as well, whether it's the illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted materials (which happens every day in our schools), or the yid who spits out his sunflower seed shells on the steps to the kotel, or the Jew who stops to pee right next to the bus stop, or allows her child to, instead of doing so ten meters in either direction and not forcing our children and soldiers to have to live with the smell.

The invitation:

Just don't step over it. Don't tolerate it.

Well, I think I've given you activities and games good for the holidays, maybe even a year or a lifetime.

This entry was posted by and is filed under Practices, Structure, Success, Improvement. Tags: Community, Games, Holy Land, Missions, Ownership, manners

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