October 9, 2009
The year is 5770, 2009 in the general count. The day is the tenth of the
Month of Tishrei, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is a day of
reflection, a day in which broken promises, wrong deeds and language
spoken in haste are being erased, forgiven, forgotten, and a new year
begins. But can we forget?
The world stood by uninterested when, for eight years, residents of a
small city near the Gaza border could not rest. During the day, their
children playing outside or at school were unprotected from a constant
rockets bombardment. During the night, everyone was at home, but most
homes lacked safety. There was no place to hide, only to run away.
Most residents of Sderot stayed, unable to move. They simply could not
afford to do so. Several factories had outlets in the area – from food
production to textile manufacturing and afforded work for the families.
For the majority of the period, the residents of area were deserted by
Israel as by the international community. Every so often politicians
stopped there for a photo-op, but nothing of substance was attempted.
By mistake, three years ago, an internal wound was inflicted on the
body-Israel. The country’s leaders decided to unilaterally withdraw from
the entire Gaza Strip. Some 8,000 evacuees joined the circle of
victims—heads of families that until then were proud providers for their
children, communities and country now bound to wonder the desert. Unlike
their forefathers before them, it was now in reverse: from freedom to
slavery and destitute.
An entire export industry destroyed, an area once blossoming became the
training ground for terrorists and a launching pad for even more
Israel could have endured longer as it did for eight years. Instead, a
decision that should have been made seven or eight years earlier finally
was finally taken: Israel will stand no more. Operation Cast Lead
resulted in 14 dead in Israel and has significantly diminished the
number of rockets and the smuggling operation into Gaza.
Throughout the Operation, Israel took steps to make certain civilian
casualties were minimized. These efforts were a precision science, the
likes of which no other country would spend its resources or waste its
Israel’s barbaric enemy knew no boundaries – from using humans as
shields, to utilizing hospitals and mosques as centers of operation,
headquarters of this octopus of evil. But most egregiously, the enemy
aimed for civilian centers, shopping malls and hospitals, knowing all
too well that the victims will not only be Jews but Bedouin and Arabs.
A new report is out, and the United Nations (against Israel and the
Jewish People) is convening in its aftermath. The report carries the
name of a Jew, and the world is awed, marveling at the new discoveries:
seeming to prove at last Israel, clearly, is at fault for war crimes.
Lies, Lies and more Lies. Lies with a capital "L.” Lies emanating from a
hatred for Jews because they are Jews. Lies designed to further weaken
the body-Israel. Successful lies for several reasons: First, the world
turns a blind eye and wants to believe them, despite evidence to the
contrary. Second, Israelis and Jews themselves help create and propagate
Leading reporters in Israel have termed the Operation, as it was being
carried out, a "blood bath.” Israel was silent. Leading professors in
Israel, who were in range and aim of the rockets, let the world know
that Israel deserves what it is getting for it is an Apartheid State.
They urged the world to "BOYCOTT ISRAEL.” Their colleagues and
administrators kept silent. American Jewry then continued kneeling
before a new Pharaoh and the choir sang "Hallelujah! Let there be Two
On this Day of Atonement 5770 (2009), we need look no further than
ourselves to realize a major overhaul is required. Israelis, so it
seems, are the root cause of their own problems. They may not instigate
trouble, the reign of terror is just several miles away, but they add
explosives and corrosives to the fire. Then they are astonished when a
bigger explosion hits them squarely in the face.
On the morning of Atonement services, just after the sunset ushered in
this holiest of days in the Hebrew calendar, I heard an interpretation
of the most known prayer in Judaism, The Shema.
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad (Hear Oh Israel, the Lord
is our G-d, the Lord is One).
The recitation of The Shema is done every day of our lives. It is
probably the single most unifying element in Judaism. As our last breath
escape our body and we return to our creator, the departed says The
Shema as we leave our mortal life behind. When we are in grave peril, we
say The Shema. When we are about to commit the most noble and heroic of
acts, we enlist G-d to our side by saying The Shema.
When we are about to die to sanctify the name of G-d, we recite The
Shema, like Major Roey Klein who threw himself at an exploding grenade,
thus saving the lives of his soldiers.
Rabbi Dr. Daryl Temkin explained to the congregants that The Shema is
really a call to ourselves to listen. One should ask oneself – is what I
am saying of value? Is it interesting? Would I, if I were the listener,
want to hear what is being said?
Listen, Oh Israel, listen to your words first. Hear the elements flowing
through your veins and arteries, like water from springs and rivers to
the great sea. Listen: Who are you? What is it that defines and drives
you? You repeat the blessing "Bless are Thou, G-d, our Lord, King of the
Universe, who made us alive, and sustained us and brought us to this
time and place,” but do you pay attention – do you hear?
"Israel,” says Dr. Temkin, is an analogy to our dreams: a dream of a
nation, a dream of setting an example, of living a life worth living, a
dream "For Next Year in Jerusalem.” Dreams that have sustained us
through the millennia and continue to drive our lives despite all
obstacles. These are dreams ever in our prayers, in our celebrations and
in Israel’s national anthem – THE HOPE.
Let us not be confused—it is not "the hope” of President Hussein Obama,
duly elected leader of the American People. Hatikva is the aspiration of
a people to live. A people who cannot explain what drives others to hate
them so the world’s greatest evil turned on them and plotted their
extermination. It was the hope of a few against the Nazi war machine in
the Warsaw Ghetto. It was the hope and aspiration to have a country by
those in Israel under British Mandate. The hope was sang some 62 years
ago on a day that changed yearning to reality, and that hope continues
to guide us even today, at the dawn of the third millennium.
Listen to your dreams. Can you hear them? Our G-d is ONE, there is no
other. Our G-d is our guide and our protector. Our G-d is the light that
is within each and every one of us – a light that comes into being even
when we are in our mother’s womb and stays until we end our journey and
our light escapes the mortal bonds to return to the Creator.
On this Day of Atonement, we need look no further than ourselves to find
both the guilty party and the strength to make amends, to continue. May
we also find a way to deal with those elements from within our midst
that collaborate with our enemies—without understanding the harm they do
Alas, the end is not for us to decide. Our actions are meaningless when
the Decision Maker is none other than the One who Decides, who assigns
life and death, by His wisdom and knowledge. The end, even if near, will
forever see the Nation of Israel prevail. The Hebrew people have always
been and will be protected by the army of the Devine and cannot be
decimated – not by the will of mere men.