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by Jehuda Saar
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Open Door Policy

A little event this morning reminded me of one of the most important principles in this country. Very often you might get to a door, you know you are supposed to be on the other side, but the gatekeeper will tell you you can't get in, you don't have the right paperwork, you don't have an appointment...whatever. You know he is wrong, but he is adamant you won't get in. Anywhere else in the world you would just turn around and walk away. But in this country one has to understand a simple rule: that closed door is actually not closed, it is wide open. It just doesn't know yet that it is wide open. It's up to you to go back there and turn NO into YES, turn black into white.


This sort of thing applies to pretty much everything here. The negative connotations are that rules are meant to be broken, that contracts are not really meant to be honoured, that a deal is not a deal etc. Where does it all come from? How come this is the thinking process around here ?

There are a great number of reasons, and to some extent a vast number of prejudices against Jews have resulted from such behavioural patterns. But actually a basis for such thinking can be found in our ancient tradition as well. Our sages tell us that Evil is actually Good that hasn't matured yet. And when you apply that thought process to other things and everything in life kind of contains its opposite within, you realise that with such thinking ingrained in us for generations, it is no wonder that I describe a closed door as one that doesn't know yet it is open and hence it is your right, no, your obligation (in these parts at least), to argue your way in. Lesson learned.

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Reader Comments (4)

hello יהודה,
long time no see.
so this country you write about (where doors don't know anything), would that be the USA or Israel?
it is really not clear unless one knows where you live (which really shows how out of touch we've been, but hey, "c'est la vie" ... again with the french, only that, for the benefit of Mrs. Weiner, I live in Belgium and Magritte was Belgian).
take care,

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Hitter

Two things on your post:
1.when I was a lawyer in Israel (the country where you now live!), I realized that all encounters with bureaucracy were about a clerk saying no, my having to scream at the clerk, the clerk then saying yes after I went postal and then, the final part of the ritual, my apologizing for my irrational behavior. None of these steps could ever be omitted--but then and only then, would I get what I (or my client) needed.

2.On a less spiritual note than yours: I think that in the shtetl, there was an (understandable) attitude that it was okay to "screw the authorities" That is, the authorities were cruel so Jews sometimes learned to get their own back in subtle ways. Then the state of Israel was established--and some people forgot that they ARE the authorities--so if they screw the authorities, they are just screwing themselves.
But I'd rather believe there's a spiritual reason for an closed door being open. Also, you don't want to be a freier!

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam

Hello Alain. Yes, Israel it is. Been here three years now. No way would this apply to the USA.
Miriam, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments (remember, I grew up in one of those shtetls with everything that it implies). I was trying to give it somewhat of a positive spin and I could wax eloquently for six months about what I call the "freier" clause, the special clause that exists in any contract or agreement, one that is even more relevant than "force majeure" in this country, the one that says that all the rules in the contract are valid unless one of the parties realises that they would be a "freier" if they actually executed what the contract says. The party feeling they might be a "freier" gets to walk away from the agreement immediately.

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJehuda

Hey Jehuda, try to post the same note on Twitter :-)

You didn't tell us what happened this morning that prompted this post.
Nice to have you blog again. Mazal Tov on the new web site!

February 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRafi Saar

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