What should I Write about This Time?
At the end of almost every Shabbat, I sit down in front of the keyboard and ask myself, “What should I write about today?” I find that I stare at the computer screen for long periods of time, sometimes even two or three hours. “What should I write about today?” This time I sat down wondering as usual, but today the answer is obvious: I am duty bound to discuss the possible demise of this bulletin, which we at Zomet Institute have been editing for more than twenty years. I can tell you that I personally will miss the recurring anguish of choosing a topic for my weekly column, “Point of View.” I feel that I have filled a role as a representative of a large segment of the classic religious Zionist camp, based on concepts that are nationalistic and true to the Torah.
I am drawn to issues related to current events, with echoes of the weekly Torah portion and its relation to the communications media. Should I say something – for or against – about providing electric power to Azza? Should I take a stand – for or against – about the decision to build thousands of new homes in Kalkilya while similar plans for Gush Etzion have been shunted aside for years? Perhaps I should comment – for or against or both – about the Bedouin takeover of large tracts of land in the Negev. And then suddenly I think of the new academic “Ethical Code” which we have not mentioned in past articles, that was requested by the Education Minister, who wants to teach nationalistic and patriotic values to the academic world in Israel, which spends so much of its time undermining these values with an ever-present eye on the outside world. And what about the treatment of the unfortunate children ill with cancer who seem to be caught in a dispute among top physicians based on prestige or possibly linked to financial issues? And what about the stubborn dispute within the religious Zionist camp that has broken out between different yeshivot on the scale of religious observance? That is certainly worthy of a “Point of View” column or two. And then there are recurring themes, such as the status of the States Attorney, who has almost unlimited powers. This too is a fateful nationalistic/governmental issue.
So What will it be Today?
All of these are subjects worthy of much thought. But what can we do if circumstances lead us in another direction? The company that publishes this bulletin has declared that the gates of “Shabbat B’Shabbato” will now be closed, for absolutely justified economic reasons. If this would be a heavenly decree to immediately stop publication of all the Shabbat bulletins I would swallow the bitter pill willingly, and I would even support such a move. I wrote as much in this column in the past. But what can we do in the face of the current reality – when a multitude of new bulletins have appeared all competing for pieces of the same advertising “cake” and therefore eating away at the economic basis for our bulletin? On principle, we agreed with our publishers not to open our pages to journalistic articles or to public relations praise of people or public institutions. We have remained strictly within the bounds of serious Torah study (except for my own opinion column). Evidently there is a price to pay for such a decision in the advertising market, and I leave it to our readers to judge what is best.
So this is how it is: We have been told by our publishers that this issue of Shabbat B’Shabbato will be the last one, barring unforeseen circumstances, in the old format of a religious-Zionist (Mafdal)-Poel HaMizrachi “brand name.” That is the way of the world, “some wither away while others grow,” and it is certainly true in today’s ever-changing universe, where one innovation quickly follows on the heels of another, day after day.
On the other hand, I ask you to “read my lips:” I have a feeling that “Shabbat B’Shabbato” will return to the stage after a short pause of a few weeks. We have hopes that the bulletin will come back to life, either through efforts of a different publisher, or perhaps (as has been hinted) our publishers “Gal Oren” will find a way to once again take on this important religious Zionist mission as in the glorious early days of its predecessor, “Oren Publishers.” At the time, this project was actively promoted by the founder of the family-owned company, Maish (Meir) Elimelech, Of Blessed Memory.
For the time being, we are deeply involved in rejuvenation efforts. It has been proposed, for example, that educational or cultural religious Zionist enterprises might “buy” a page which will be filled with Torah insights by their members, with short summaries of the activities of the sponsoring organization. Is anybody interested in taking on such a challenge?
In my heart I feel that we can find a way out of this crisis, and we already see some indications of new beginnings... We are looking for organizations that will purchase a weekly page in the bulletin for a minimum of one year. If this interests you, contact Dan Marans, General Manager of Zomet, phone 052-4295294.
We will be happy to meet again, and I hope it will be very soon...
(Written after the end of Shabbat, Torah portion of Shelach.)