Well, one week has come and gone at the United Nations and so far the world hasn't come to an end. That's not to say a nearly incomprehensibly large amount of time, effort, patience, sleeplessness, brinksmanship and massive national security resources have not been brought to bear on the mediation of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Witnessing diplomacy up close as we all have; managing fears and expectations; mitigating hysteria and diminishing violence where possible; and hoping against despair that a solution can be reached, we have passed one leg of the journey with many, many more miles to go.
So far we seem to be following a script of pre-determined chess moves; and as the sun heads west and Shabbat begins, each side has staked out its territory. And so into the breach will now step the most powerful nations of the world. We will see what they are able to achieve.
One thing I did hear this week that I can say we will not be counting on came from a young Lubavitcher man, who reported to me in passing that the "nations of the world now surrounding and threatening Israel" were best to be understood as the prophetic warnings issued more than 2500 hundred years ago (albeit about different nations, different kingdoms, different Jews and different enemies) but applied to our day as the dawn of the Apocalypse, presaging the coming of the Moshiach, in the form of no less than that kindly bearded fellow on the sides of trucks and vans, whose visage smiles and waves at you on our fair city's streets and whose emissaries ask, "Are you Jewish?" Perhaps they should now add to the inquiry, "Care to try an Apocalypse?"
The problem with such End of Days thinking, of course, is that Jewish history teaches us that we've been on the verge of destruction so many times, Apocalyptic prophecies mean less than the quiet and not-so-quiet, dogged and heroic efforts we all can take to save ourselves from disaster when possible; but that when disaster does strike, God forbid, our formidable nature in national reconstruction is impossible to destroy.
Change is coming--that much we know. We don't know exactly when and we don't know at what pace it will arrive. But the more we're engaged with rolled up sleeves, with hearts and minds ready to serve, come what what may, the better off we'll all be.
Gods of the Apocalypse: You guys sit this one out, thank you very much. We mere mortals can take it from here.