Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Israel diary--sunset Wednesday

Drove around Safed with my daughter and Benzi who snoozed the whole time in his car seat. The city's changed very little since I was here more than 30 years ago. A pretty hill town of ancient stone houses Safed is the birthplace of a Jewish mystical tradition called Kaballah.

As a physician, I was immediately struck by absence of the general child and adult obesity epidemic sweeping America. Suspect the main reason is compared to America traditional family life values are so strong here mothers make the effort to prepare balanced, portion controlled family meals. Fresh food is plentiful and inexpensive. People here accept a modest lifestyle as the price for enjoying a traditional family lifestyle.

Unlike the West in the tradtional Jewish and Muslim worlds romance isn't the sole predicate for marriage. In fact, many very smart people view romantic love with suspicion. Things like family ties, religious devotion and old fashioned economics count for a lot. It's a big thing for my daughter her husband is highly respected rabbinical scholar and teacher. When the beauty and strength of youth vanishes, their basic trust and respect in each other will sustain their marriage in the harsh winters of later middle and old age.

Romantic love was literally invented in the West about 700 years ago. That we're saturated 24/7 with songs, literature, images, and exhoratations celebrating the supposaed joys of romantic love suggests its inherent disharmony with essential human nature. The really good things in life sell themselves.

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