Little by little Eretz Yisrael, the Older and Better Eretz Yisrael, is being finished off, but there are moments in which I suddenly feel that the change is happening with one sharp swoop of a sword. Such a moment came tonight when we were told about the death of Arik Einstein.
A deja vu of sorts – once again Ichilov, once again Beni Barbash, the Hospital Director in a choked up voice in front of the cameras. Once again shock and real and all-encompassing sadness from all parts of the public, and once again memorial candles outside of the hospital. And once again, Shalom Chaver, just like Arik sang for Yitzhak.
For me, Arik Einstein was an entire culture that combines music with a vast love of the Israel that once was. An Israel of modesty, an Israel of simplicity where we make our way slowly and we think about the poor soldiers who are lying in the mud right now, an Israel that sometimes makes our hearts ache from its direction and we feel that the country has gone to hell, and yet sometimes we are convinced that despite it all there is this love inside of us and it will win.
For me Arik Einstein is also songs that have accompanied my life here in this land: He accompanied me in Hashomer Hatzair with “Hashrika Shel Hatnua”, the youth movement whistling melody that reminds me of a bonfire, in the beautiful age of the activities and the ken - because how dedicated we really were, how innocent we really were, he accompanied me as a soldier in the early 1980’s while I sat in muddy stakeouts, he accompanied me as a fan of Hapoel humming over and over after another painful Hapoel loss about those poor fans who are eating their hearts out - so Sa Le’at, Sa Le’at, Go Slow, they won’t start without us, and he accompanies me every time I leave the country and return to it with the tune of Kama Tov SheChazarti Habayta, How Good it is That I Have Come Home.
Arik Einstein is the Red Israel, the Simple Israel, an Israel with a good sense of humor, a beloved Israel that once upon a time existed and has become unrecognizable. But more than anything else I take from Arik Einstein the ability to fix things. The personal responsibility that is mine and yours to make things so that it will be better here. Here on the dirt of the Land of Israel, and in our reality.
For me this is the song of Arik (one he not only sang, but also wrote the lyrics for and composed the melody) that accompanies me more than any other: Me and you will change the world, me and you and then everyone else will come along, they’ve said it before I did, it makes no difference. . . Me and you will try from the beginning, it will be bad for us, but no matter, it’s not so terrible, me and you will change the world.
So now we have become the orphans of another significant piece of the good Israel, the beautiful and much beloved Israel that was here once upon a time, but we have been left with the obligation and the responsibility to make sure that it will be a happy and funny and just place here, to make sure that the Israel we will have in the future will also be a Good Eretz Yisrael. Me and you, and then everyone else will come right along.