Recently the Muezzin Bill, to regulate the blaring call to Moslem prayer, was proposed in the Knesset. Naturally this was a cause of controversy. Last week an emergency meeting organized by Knesset members Yehuda Glick (Likud) and Zohair Bahloul (Zionist Union) and attended by various religious leaders called on finding a solution to the problem with dialog instead of legislation. For me, this spirit of cooperation is a breath of fresh air and I pray a resolution everyone can live with will be found.
For those who don’t quite understand the problem I’m reposting an article I wrote almost a year ago.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2016
When I was a university student I shared a house with five other coeds. Actually the house was made for a family of three but with creativity we were able to squeeze the six of us inside. Curtains changed the dining room into a bedroom and more curtains made the loft into a room for two, me and my roommate. Amazingly, all of us usually managed to cope with each other’s different habits, schedules, and idiosyncrasies until the morning my roommate began raving at me.
“I can’t take any more of your early morning cheerfulness,” she cried in frustration. The other four fully agreed with her and from then on I tried curb my enthusiasm for life until after noon.
I’ve always been a morning person and believed Ben Franklin knew what he was talking about when he said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Lately, though, I could do without rising quite so early. Sunrise breakfasts are lovely once in a while but I don’t want a steady diet of them. I don’t need to be up and out for work early. Nor do I have little children to take care of first thing in the morning. Why can’t I sleep past six am?
There are a number of explanations: habit, too much on my mind, aging. Another problem is the Muslim cry for prayer that comes from the muezzin on the loudspeaker across the valley every morning at dawn.
Devout Muslims pray five times a day: at dawn, midday, the late part of the afternoon, just after sunset, and halfway between sunset and sunrise, ideally around midnight. I can state with full sincerity that I think it’s praiseworthy that they make contact with The Almighty so often. Unfortunately, though, instead of relying on every individual to remember his obligation there is a regular, noisy reminder which is hard for anyone, Moslem or not, to ignore, especially in the middle of the night.
Everyone has their theories as to why there is so much violence in the Muslim population. In my opinion it is due to sleep deprivation. New mothers getting only four to five hours of sleep at a stretch become blurry-eyed, irritable, and unreasonable. And that’s with the euphoria a newborn brings. How can we expect a full population to function in a calm, rational manner when they never get a full night sleep?
I’m sure there are those who will immediately discount my theory as false and not political correct. In my opinion it is no less politically correct than the premise that the settlements and those who live in them are the cause for all the problems in the Middle East.
This week a young woman was murdered in front of her children in her home in the village of Otniel. Dafna Meir, h’yd, was not responsible for the civil war in Syria. Nor did she cause the crisis in Egypt. Although I never met her, I know that a woman who becomes a nurse does so because she wants to help others. As a nurse in Soroka Hospital in Beersheva I’m certain she treated many Arab patients.
Less than eighteen hours later another woman, this one pregnant, was stabbed by an Arab assailant inside the village (settlement in the language of those who want to blame Israel for all that is wrong in the world.) of Tekoa. Michal Froman, who grew up in Shilo, was moderately injured. Thankfully, she’s out of Intensive Care and her prognosis and that of the baby are good.
As I pray for the full recovery of Michal Bat Esther I wonder how in the world she had contributed to the corruption in Lebanon and Iraq. What could she have done to cause the unrest in Yemen and Turkey? Who could possibly think that these women could be blamed for all the violence in the Middle East, France, Germany, and elsewhere? How can anyone justify attacks on them and all the other innocent victims as the result of Palestinian frustration?
Instead of blaming the innocent the world need to take a good, long look at the Moslem religion. All joking aside, the subject of sleep deprivation should be seriously studied. No, I am NOT suggesting the Moslems should stop praying five times a day. I am urging, though, that they should remember to turn their thoughts to Allah on their own without the blaring muezzin. Just as important they should consider making their midnight prayers earlier so they can get a decent night sleep. Then, well rested, they can find a way to live peacefully with each other and then the rest of the world. Perhaps they’ll even get to the point that others will accuse them of having too much early morning cheerfulness.