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Selected silliness and quirky quotations for tough times

Times are tough in Israel. Let us not forget the words of Winston Churchill, who had, as you know, quite a lot to deal with during his war: "If you are going through hell, keep going." That's where we are, my friends, and that's what we will do. We will keep going, we will support each other, and we will win this war. As Mark Twain said, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." We are one of the smallest dogs in the great kennel of nations, but our fight, when aroused, is awesome and fierce.

It behooves us in these times to turn to one of the great (if generally unwitting) philosophers, to find inspiration and a bit of a laugh, lest our souls be invaded too deeply. When Yogi Berra (born Lawrence Peter Berra), catcher and left-handed batter for the New York Yankees, died in 2015 at the age of ninety, he left behind not only a stellar baseball history, but an oeuvre of aphorisms. Even though Yogi claimed that "I really didn't say everything I said," he apparently did.

Although the time for political reckoning will inevitably come, this is not the time. Now is the time for thoughtful, unified and decisive action. After the war, when the time for political reckoning does come, we can pretty much sum things up anyway with Yogi Berra's analysis: "We made too many wrong mistakes." And when the post-war analysis goes deeper, there will likely be politicians and generals who can say, "I knew I was going to take the wrong train, so I left early."

I know we are all going up and down, plunging from hope and determination to the darkness of despair and back again, every day. But friends, "We’ve had enough trowels and tribulations." We are strong. As our army and our people fight this war let's remember that (in Yogi's words) "we have deep depth." Even when we are "overwhelming underdogs" we can "hit from both sides of the plate," because we are "amphibious."

We must not be swayed by world opinion, keeping in mind Yogi's counsel: "Don’t always follow the crowd, because nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded." World opinion was, is and will be crowded against us. We won’t go there. We will do what we need to do, all of it, remembering that “It’s not too far. It just seems like it is.” If we momentarily lose sight of the goal we will put in our "contract lenses” and take world opinion with “a grin of salt.”

We need to help and support our neighbors, taking Yogi's advice to "pair up in threes." Every act of kindness helps: "Little things are big." Reaching out to, helping and supporting each other, remembering once again that we are one people, strengthening our resolve and lighting our hope: this is our secret weapon because, "baseball [like war], is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical." Like Yogi, we will not give in to fear or despair. "That's how I kept myself positive," he said, "by not getting all negative." It won’t be easy and it won't be quick, but as Yogi advises, "You have to give 100 percent in the first half of the game. If that isn't enough, in the second half, you have to give what's left." We will have plenty left, because our source is G-d. Let’s remind each other of that, even as our soldiers put their lives on the line and countless families mourn their dead.

We have amazing first responders, medics and surgeons giving their skill, expertise and love to the wounded, doctors treating patients at our world-class hospitals, every bit as good as “Mt. Sinus Hospital.” On any given day we might hear someone say, "You saw Dr. Zhivago? Why? Aren't you feeling well?"

After this war is over and we have won, the enemy (what's left of them) may sum up their own situation with this Yogi-ism: "You wouldn’t have won if we’d beaten you." Fat chance, losers.

Finally, a few of Yogi's words on the human condition. "If the world were perfect, it wouldn't be." It seems that for now, suffering and struggle have a role to play in human life. Friends, as we reach out to each other across our imaginary divides, the healing has already begun. May we, in these painful times, learn, grow and mend the terrible rifts that have arisen between us and merit to see, speedily in our days, the longed-for time when evil is eradicated from the earth, our eyes are opened and we know that G-d is one and His name is one. Am Israel chai!

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