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Danita and Michel Aziza


By Danita Aziza, June 22, 2011

I admit that I have an obsessive-compulsive nature.

When Michel and I were first married we created a little game between us over the placement of the daily newspaper on the coffee table. I took this silly charade quite seriously. The game would begin with me placing the paper at a 25 degree angle on the right hand side of the table neatly folded like a head slightly cocked in the “huh?” position.  Michel would no sooner sit down to read the paper and ruffle it’s pages when I would appear out of nowhere and put the paper neatly together again. It drove me crazy to see it not put back exactly as I had placed it. For me, an out of place newspaper ruined the whole look of the room, made it seem messy and disorganized and made our apartment appear something less than perfectly pleasing to the eye.

My obsessive-compulsive, perfection aspiring tendencies are not behest to me alone.  Many people today seem to be perfection obsessed to some degree. I remember visiting a very good friend of my Dad’s who was an exceptionally good tailor of men’s suits not to mention a very gentle and wonderful human being.  On one particular visit to his shop in Toronto he sat and told my Dad and I the story of a client who had just left his store with his young son who was no more than eight years of age. The client had instructed the tailor to make his son a three- piece suit, a carbon copy of the one that the tailor was making for him.  The tailor was a bit stupefied as to why the man would, for starters want to spend such a large sum of money on a perfectly tailored suit for an eight year old boy, but he was even more struck by the man’s desire to have his little boy outfitted in his image and an image that he obviously deemed was nothing short of perfect.

I’m not sure why this story has stuck with me all these years, but stuck with me it has.

I’ve been reminded of the story when my youngest child, Rachel bellows, “you just want me to be perfect” when I nag her about cleaning up her room or only eating healthy food or doing something that she deems to be totally irrelevant to her mode of thinking, but not to mine.  I think of this story when I obsess over so many insignificant things like the taste of the food I prepare for guests, the neatness of my home or the Hebrew I try to speak.  I even thought of the little boy in the tailored suit as I took Benji’s army uniform out of the washer last week and after letting it air dry asked Benji if I should iron it.  He flatly said “no way” and with a big smirk told me that I didn’t need to wash it cause it just gets dirty anyway. I visualize the boy in the three- piece suit when Tali rejects the trivial things that I tend to emphasize that simply have no merit in her big picture of life.

While I most certainly display obsessive-compulsive tendencies, Israel, I believe, does not. Israel’s remarkable achievements as a nation just might have come about by virtue of the fact that the country is not perfection obsessed. Striving for perfection requires a great deal of energy and time; luxuries that Israel has not been afforded.  Israel’s very modern and democratic infrastructure has evolved through its ability to prioritize needs and design realistic actions plans that meet objectives. When there is a long laundry list of things to do, as there have been and continues to be in the country, the goal becomes checking off the items on the list rather than the quality of its execution.

When you look at Israel in terms of its accomplishments in every realm from the development of its economy, military, post secondary academic institutions, immigration and absorption, construction, agriculture, transportation and culture it is simply mind boggling to consider how such a nation with so many substantial challenges has been able to be so incredibly productive in such a short time.  Creativity, smarts, determination, chutzpah, hard work and its ability to not spend much time on minutia can perhaps be attributed to it being able to do a lot and a lot very well, but slightly less than stellar.

Israelis are very aware of the country’s shortcomings and are the most critical of the things that don’t work so well here and are invariably impatient with the flaws that exist.  As a small example, Even Yehuda where we live is a rapidly developing community.  In the past two years hundreds of new homes have been built and a commercial sector has sprouted with great restaurants and stores.  A new elementary school went under construction last summer and will be ready for students come September.  There are new parks to be found and beautiful flowers and plants line the side of the main road leading into the town. All of this modern development in a shockingly short span of time and yet there remain no street signs for visitors who are looking for a house or for someone making a delivery. It drives people crazy and drivers even crazier that no one can find where they are going.  Israelis would say this is typical, but I say it may be a direct result of the missing obsessive-compulsive gene.

I have found that Israelis accomplish in one day what many others living outside of the country do in many.  People work, spend time with their families, travel, shop, cook, clean, go to the beach, visit restaurants and the theatre, speak on the telephone, keep apprised of the news and so much more. I get dizzy just trying to keep up with the pace. In essence, they take in life in half breaths rather than deep full ones sometimes choosing the act of doing over the act of perfecting.

Settling for something less than perfect can mean that you can possibly enjoy life a little more when you’re not so concerned with having everything “just so”.  You tend to become far less consumed with how things appear on the surface and expend less energy trying to make things more than they are or than what they are capable of being.

I’m learning from Israel’s missing obsessive gene that “yallah, let’s go” means settling for something less than perfect and hey, I just may be convinced that reaching slightly below the bar of perfection is not such a bad thing at all.

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