Every man has his finest hour, which has already been shortened to the famous 15 minutes of fame. And there are a few exceptional people who sometimes get a whole year to be heroes, perhaps even longer if no one replaces them.
One such figure is Avi Toibin; he is my man of the year. Perhaps you have forgotten about him already, but I haven't. He is the person who saved the life of Yasmin Feingold, the young rowing champion who was trapped when her boat capsized in the Yarkon River. He is the man who fulfilled his humane duty as others stood by and saw her drowning, and looked away in the face of death. Where others stood around, he manned up.
Every day of the year we stand on the bank of a river, afraid of jumping into the murky waters to save the lives of others. Anyone who has risked his life once is hardly likely to immerse himself twice in the same deep.
As we stand on the bridge, large numbers of dead fish can be seen, slowly dragged along by the stream which will putrefy and suffer from blockage along the river beds. These dead fish are actually us, and we look at ourselves and are terrified. While Ilan and Asaf Ramon ascend to the stars, we try to bask in their reflected glory, using what remains of our self image - but we are dropped mid-flight and fall to the ground, which is saturated with white phosphorus.
From the bridge we can see a young man wearing a faded beret; perhaps he is a soldier. For a moment he floats, with his head above the water, still breathing, and the next moment he is washed over, covered by the water, and then he drowns and disappears. A lot of people who have the power to save him shout 'Help!' but no one jumps in to save his life; the water is still, as are the people.
From the bridge one can make out a box, or perhaps it's a suitcase. They pull it out of the mud, they open it, and inside they see a little girl. She can no longer cry; she is dead. There are quite a few children standing abandoned along the banks of the River Pishon, which rises out of the Garden of Eden and encircles the entire land of Havilah, "where there is gold."
More recently, we see other children whom we cannot really see because they are transparent. Sometimes they are black, or have slanted eyes. Sometimes they are simply far removed from sight. Only when they turn 10 years old, only then will we not put an end to their lives; or, as three professors phrased it this week, "We propose giving rights to children who were born here and have lived here for more than ten years. But their parents will have to choose - whether to leave the children here without them or to take them with them." As if a playwright made of straw and a lawyer made of wheat composed the document for them, in the name of "a new nationalist left." Pharoah's daughter, who defied her father because of her conscience, was more enlightened.
Avi Toibin will have bad reasons to jump into the water again next year. But he will not always be there on the bridge, and it is not good to leave the good Israeli on his own. People must join him - even though there is no certainty that those who do a good deed will not be not harmed.
Tomorrow, the Shabbat, postpones the Tashlich ceremony (the Rosh Hashanah ritual of casting away one's sins into water) until the day after. Do not be in a hurry to shake out the contents of your pockets and throw the sins into a source of running water that has since dried up. We have already cast away and dirtied enough during all the days of the year.
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