USA, Japan and Yom Kippur
The 5754 Yom Kippur issue of several Israeli newspapers devoted a lot of space to discussing the 'machdalim' of the Yom Kippur War which happened 20 years earlier.
Note: the aforementioned Yom Kippur happened on the Gregorian year A.D. 1993. The war itself happened on year 5734 (Gregorian year A.D. 1973).
One newspaper even speculated that this preoccupation was necessary so that Yom Kippur will have also a secular meaning, in addition to its religious meaning.
In this article I want to argue that it is an excellent idea to add secular meaning to Yom Kippur, specify what secular meaning, and explain how it may help keep Israel strong in the long run. At the end of this article, I'll suggest also a secular meaning for the 9 B'av mourning day.
During the years which elapsed since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Israel made large progress in several fronts. Among other things, the average yearly income of the Israelis passed the $10 000/year mark, which is considered to be the dividing line between developing countries and developed countries.
The most important progress was that the quality of management of the myriad of institutions - private companies, non-profit institutions and government functions - made an improvement.
There are several causes for this improvement. I am suggesting that one of the causes is the trauma the Israelis suffered due to the Yom Kippur War, in which they saw mismanagement of the army, which could lead to loss in the war and destruction of Israel. I was a student in the Technion about 5 years after the Yom Kippur War and remember that some lecturers chided students who made stupid mistakes, saying that such stupid mistakes are what happened in the Yom Kippur War.
As a result of the above, I am suggesting that the generation which experienced Yom Kippur War is conditioned to consider quality management to be matter of life and death; and not to tolerate mismanagement.
Several years ago, managers of USA companies were considered to be the very best in the world. USA was the most advanced industrialized country in the world. Other countries learned American methods of management.
In the early 1990's, the quality of management in USA was, with some exceptions, an embarrassment. USA is was (and is still) ridden with huge national debt both to its citizens and abroad. The economic conditions in USA were not so good (relatively speaking) before the reign of Bill Clinton. There were (and still are) lots of homeless people, who probably would have retained their homes if the economic conditions were better. There was and is a lot of violent crime there.
Japan is another example of highly successful country, which has its own problems. For several years, the Japanese were successful by stressing high quality, using their own management style (which was learned by people from other countries and integrated into their own management styles), and imitating (with several improvements) the products of their competitors.
Now Japan has its own economic problems. The money which they accumulated thanks to trade surplus which lasted for several years is deposited in banks and invested in various businesses abroad instead of being used to create real wealth inside Japan. They ran out of original ideas to imitate&improve. Moreover, their culture does not stress originality of thinking.
Israel is now entering a phase of rapid economic development and it is probable that Israel will be one of the wealthiest countries in the world in the early decades of 21st century. It behooves us to start discussion and determine if and which factors could (if left unchecked) lead to Israel's decline and difficulties after Gregorian year A.D. 2020.
There are several social trends in progress everywhere. In particular, Israel has its share of social trends, which can improve (or at least conserve) its position; and other social trends, which can undermine its position, if left unchecked.
Two negative trends will be detailed in the following (there are others but I'll not go into them here).
The generation, which experienced the Yom Kippur War, is still with us but eventually it will be replaced by a new generation. Unless an educational program is undertaken (of similar magnitude to that of teaching the Holocaust to the newer generations), the new generation won't be conscious of the dangers of mismanagement. This is one negative trend.
The second negative trend is the narcissistic mentality of the Israeli entrepreuers, managers and professional people. The Jewish people consider themselves to be "The Chosen Ones". Regardless of whether this is true or not, speaking of long range results, it is a dangerous mental attitude to hold.
As a part of the process of educating new generations and sensitizing them to the perils of mismanagement, I am suggesting that Yom Kippur be considered also as "Mismanagement Day". Just like students are taught about the Holocaust each year before the Memorial Day, they should be taught about management foul-ups, gross mismanagement and the like - each year before Yom Kippur. At that time of the year, the newspapers should print articles about mismanagement just as they print articles related to the Holocaust before the Memorial Day of Holocaust victims.
The 9 B'av is the day in which both the First Temple and Second Temple were destroyed. In both cases, it was essentially groundless hate and civil wars, which did the Jews in. Both can be considered to be manifestation of believing that one was chosen. The civil war before Second Temple downfall was between leaders who refused to cooperate and each one of them believed that he is better than the others.
Even during the period before 1948, there was infighting between the various factions of Jewish freedom fighters (the notorious "Season"). The reason it didn't abort the attempts to found an independent state for the Jews was the fact that Menachem Begin didn't adopt narcissistic policy but told his people not to fight their brethern.
It may be a good idea to declare this day as a day, in which people get educated about the dangers of narcissistic behavior and infighting. Given enough educational campaign, this problem won't cause Israel's downfall.
In order to improve Israel's chances for very long range strength and prosperity, continuous educational effort is indicated so that people won't adopt attitudes, which could lead to long-range decline and fall of Israel.
For this purpose, I am suggesting that Yom Kippur be considered also as Mismanagement Day (Yom he-Mechdalim). Likewise, 9 B'av be considered also as Unmerited Hate Day (Yom Sinaat Hinam).