Monday, April 1, 2024

Orit Ettinger's Inspiring Faith and Positivity Provide a Powerful Glimpse into Israel's Spiritual Strength

"Orit" means "light" in Hebrew. Orit Ettinger embodies light and positivity despite suffering many tragedies during her young life, and when she speaks about her experiences she uplifts others. Ettinger's father was killed in a terrorist attack, one of her brothers died in a motorcycle accident, her cousin was killed while rescuing people during Hamas' October 7, 2023 mass casualty attack in Israel, and another one of her brothers was killed during the current war in Gaza, but she remains determined to be happy and to focus on the positive aspects of life. I must confess that the deep faith and unwavering positivity demonstrated by religiously observant Jews inspires me but also confounds me; I have not suffered a fraction of what Ettinger has suffered, but my reaction to suffering--both my own, and the suffering that I see inflicted on innocent people like Ettinger and her family--is to become angry and to question why such things happen. It is very difficult to remain positive in the face of pure evil, but I am inspired by those who are able to do that.

Ettinger notes that we all suffer hardships during our lives but that the world is still a beautiful place. She finds joy in that beauty, and every day she expresses a moment of gratitude. Her message is that we must find the ray of light in all situations:

I told my sisters that we don't have the privilege of sitting and crying in our house, because there is a war going on and people are worn out and emotionally broken. We understand this saga and know what helps and what doesn't, what comforts and what doesn't, and we can help people get back up. I went to comfort mourners and families of hostages, and I saw how, through my pain, I have the chance to comfort others.

We're all in a war. Some whole families were killed. We don't have the privilege of sitting at home and if I have the job of encouraging soldiers then I will do it and worry about the consequences afterwards.

I have told families of hostages, as well as the families of those whose loved ones were killed in action, and soldiers as well--there is something in realizing that not everything is under your control. Wives worry for their husbands, but does that help? No--so stop worrying. You can worry, but you can't let it take you over, because there is nothing we can do about it.

The love of life will triumph over the lust for death. There are nearly two billion Muslims in the world and there are less than 16 million Jews in the world. I don't know how many Muslims hate Jews and support Hamas, but the empirical evidence suggests that the number is large. However, Israel's strength and the Jewish people's strength derive not from population numbers or from military weapons but rather from a deep well of spiritual fortitude. A death-affirming culture can only bring death to itself and others, while a life-affirming culture brings life. Look at what the Jewish people have achieved in the Land of Israel in less than 100 years by driving out British colonists, defeating the armies of multiple Arab/Muslim nations in several wars, and then building world class agricultural, scientific, and technological infrastructures--and then contrast that life-affirming progress with how little the Arab/Muslim world has accomplished during the same period despite enjoying vast advantages in size and natural resources (most notably oil): in the Arab/Muslim world one searches in vain for democracy, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, women's rights, and other basic human rights. Israel is the only Mideast nation where basic human rights exist, because Israel is the only Mideast nation founded on life-affirming principles.

There will not be peace in the Mideast until the Arab/Muslim world adopts a life-affirming mindset that rejects political extremism and hatred; that truth does not fit into the preferred narratives promulgated by many media outlets, political organizations, and nations, but understanding and accepting that truth is the only path forward for the Mideast's dysfunctional nations. Clinging to the desire to transform the world into Dar-al-Islam will only lead to misery and death.

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