Monday, October 17, 2011

Chag Sameach? This Year It's Been Challenging

Sukkot is supposed to be a time of joy. After all, it's a mitzvah, especially on Sukkot, when we're surrounded by other mitzvot. You eat - and it's a mitzvah (if you're in the Sukkah). You sleep, and it's a mitzvah. Normally, those two only have religious value on Shabbat. What's not to be happy about?
And yet, I find myself in a funk. There's a heaviness that weighs me down, always in the back of my mind. This morning, I figured it out. It's about Gilad Shalit.
I'm not a general, but the outcome of freeing hundreds of terrorists can be good, even from the perspective that you're bolstering the standing of a terrorist organization who will glorify these murderers and extol others to follow in their footsteps. This is clearly an emotional decision, not a logical one, and one wonders about the cost of making emotional decisions like these. Moreover, I have no blame for Gilad's family whose only wish was to see their son return home. I understand their pain and their efforts to secure their son's release.
But I cannot help but feel for the families of the victims of these terrorists. Every day when I read the news, yet another name comes to the fore, reminding us of a heinous terrorists whose vicious acts will forever remain etched into our collective consciousness. It was bad enough the we had to live through their actions once. Now we have to set them free?
And, if I feel pain, I cannot imagine the pain of the families who lost loved ones during these many acts of murder. Do they not have a say in these matters? We've been hearing the Shalits for years (sadly). Before we made such a momentous decision, would it not have been fair to hear the side of the victims of terror - at least to allow them to voice their frustrations and anguish before signing off on the deal.
Their pain must be our pain as well.
I can see the joyous headlines on the news sites about Gilad's return, but in truth, there's nothing to be happy about in this entire ordeal. I wish - even though I know it won't happen - that Gilad Shalit and his family could return home quietly, without fanfare, and especially without the certain media circus to follow, if only out of a sense of compassion for the people suffering yet again through this ordeal. And yet, the media must have its fill. And with a story like the freeing of Gilad Shalit, the media's hunger cannot be satiated.
With these thoughts swirling in my head as I sit in my Sukkah, I'm still supposed to be happy? A very diffiult task indeed.