Friday, May 13, 2011
Halfway through the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem my sister is having a moment of purification. As a chess player, I like to anticipate all sorts of scenarios when visiting such places, so I’m prepared when she asks me for a plastic bag. I give her one, I push her into a corner next to a video of dispossessed Jews, and then watch over her as she is puking her guts out. People react in different ways to such things. The spilling of the guts continues through various bathrooms, and then in fact all the way back to Tel Aviv. As plastic bags pass through our hands, all quietly and discretely with hardly anyone noticing anything, I start philosophizing. I tell my sister that although it’s impossible to understand what goes through people’s heads when they decide to dispossess others even of that which they don’t have, on another level, such cruel acts contribute to enhancing what Freud said, namely that “the goal of all life is death.” Generally, as we work contrary to this very fact, judging by the fervent ardor with which we attach ourselves to things, fellowmen, children, and animals, it makes one wonder what indeed we must all be possessed by when we fail to understand that what makes us content is not attachment but detachment. As my sister was preoccupied with the consequences of taking the whole world’s mistakes on her shoulders, I went for a swim in the Mediterranean sea for a splash of self-baptism: in went an Orthodox, and out popped a Zen Buddhist. Only in Israel. Shabbat shalom to ya’ll.