Israel has revitalized Hebrew, Lashon HaKodesh (The Holy Language) -- and modernized the language to the point of every day usage, adapted to a modern era.
Tanach is undergoing a revolution and is taught in yeshiva high schools. The "Bible Championship," Chidon HaTanach is a wonderful experience for religious (and non observant) teenagers to reconnect to Tanach. Who would have dreamed a hundred years ago of Orthodox teenagers learning Tanach -- it would have been Gemara only...in Yiddish.
Reading this post on "A Simple Jew's" blog really bothered me:
"Reading an recent editorial entitled "For a kinder, gentler Judaism " made me think about a sensitive halachic issue at the shul where I daven. In her editorial, Linda Maurice wrote, "My 100-year-old observant grandmother did not go to shul on the first day of Rosh Hashanah this year. She did go on the second day. The reason for her absence the first day was not due to illness, but because her Orthodox rabbi did not want her to attend if she had to arrive in a wheelchair."
Linda Maurice's grandmother instantly made me think of "Shalom", a middle-aged paraplegic man who davens at my shul. Each Shabbos, Shalom's non-Jewish nurse drives him to shul and he makes his way inside with the help of his electric wheelchair.
I realize that this immediately raises many halachic problems since it involves violation of Shabbos prohibitions, and that Orthodox rabbis would counsel him to refrain from doing this. I also realize that Hilchos Shabbos will never be revised to make an exception for cases such as Shalom."
A partial list of Tzomet innovations includes:
- Shabbatphone - for vital telephone communication on Shabbat
- Electric wheelchair - for elderly and other physically limited individuals
- “Chagaz” - gas timer for cooking and heating
- Alarm systems - for synagogues (Aron Kodesh) and private homes
- "Shab-et” - for vital writing on Shabbat and holidays
- Patrol vehicles - for border settlements and Israeli security forces
- Metal detectors for the Kotel and the Me’arat Hamachpela
- “Medigram” - modular unit for medical practitioners
- Automatic elevators - for hospitals and private homes
- Patient-nurse signalization systems - for hospitals and geriatric centers
- Security systems for army outposts and internal security personnel
- Automated milking machines for kibbutz dairies
- Sound amplification systems for synagogues and other religious events
- "Chaltak” for vital trouble shooting on Shabbat and holidays
- Chair lifts - for homebound individuals
- Pneumatic systems to eliminate “tumat kohanim” in hospitals
- Diverse systems for refrigerators, freezers and hot/cold water dispensers
While there will definitely be those who point to innovation in chutz la'aretz, we need to differentiate between innovation that results in restrictions (i.e., leafy vegetables are prohibited) versus solutions, such as the Gush Katif bug-free vegetables.
The challenge of Israel today is to find acceptable halachik (or technological) solutions for living in the complex reality of a modern-day Jewish state.
No one said living in Israel is easy (otherwise, I wouldn't be writing about a challenge). Yes, living outside of Israel has it's challenges as well - like affording yeshiva tuition, yet I would prefer Israel's challenges any day, which are on behalf of all of the Jewish people.
You can watch from the sidelines outside of Israel, but if you want to be part of the vibrancy of emerging solutions and innovation, this is without a doubt, the place for Jews to be.
Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael