Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tzuk Eitan Continues

I've uploaded a quick page for tefillot sent out by Rav Hillel Merzbach (our shul rabbi) that you can recite for the safety and health of our soldiers. You can download the page here.

A Quiet Shabbat
It was a relatively quiet Shabbat in Yad Binyamin - just one siren, right before we were about to begin davening Mussaf (after the chazzan had said the kaddish). We all filtered our way to the back of the shul (which is a covered area), and waiting about five minutes, before returning to our places. It's kind of surreal because in the quiet of Yad Binyamin, you can hear the booms quite often from the Iron Dome intercepting (or trying to) rockets fired from Gaza. All day long one could hear the soft thud of distant booms.

The Cost of the Iron Dome
During a talk over Shabbat, one of the rabbis spoke about what he called the "difficult and trying times" we are currently experiencing. I recognize that each person experiences events differently, so I went to a neighbor of mine and asked him: Really? Do you think it's so bad? Truthfully, rockets are dangerous, and have interrupted our lives. But thankfully (even miraculously), injuries and deaths from the rockets have been kept to a minimum. I was in Israel during the first Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein lobbed Scud missiles at Israel, and no one knew if he'd try to fire chemical weapons at us. The entire country walked around carrying gas masks, and we sealed our rooms with tape and wet towels. That was truly scary. The sirens today - much less so.
My neighbor - a very respected rabbi in our community, agreed with me, and suggested that the Iron Dome, as amazing as it is, has a cost. It was less than a month ago that tens of thousands of Jews gathered to pray for the safe return of our three (murdered) teens. Where's the outcry about rockets falling on our cities? Where's the public gatherings? There isn't really any. Because we feel safe (relatively), there's no public outcry to root out the terrorism in Gaza. It's muted. It's not so bad. Of course Tzahal went into Gaza. But will they stay for long enough to really do the job they need to do? I'm not so sure, if only because the public doesn't feel strong pressure to demand it, protected by the Iron Dome.

The Pictures of the Fallen
The same can be said for the release of the names and images of our fallen soldiers.
We value every life and cherish each and every soldier. But I wonder how long Israel will stand strong in the face of a funeral a day, combined with the shared Facebook posts, media bombardment, and publicity. I fear that this is exactly what Hamas is counting on. They don't care about the numbers: ten, a hundred, a thousand? The more deaths, the better for them to garner sympathy around the world.
But we do care. About every. Single. Soul. How long can a country maintain a war when it mourns every fallen soldier?
I'm not sure that there's an answer to this conundrum, other than to point out that we must not lose sight of the end goal, despite the high cost.

Hamas: Their Own Worst Enemy
The Arabs are their own worst enemies for many reasons, but Hamas, if you ask me, takes the cake. If their stated goal is truly to drive the Jews out of Israel, then they're really going about it the wrong way. The best way to do it, would be to leave Israel alone. We'd bicker, fight with one-another, and many Israelis would choose an easier life outside of Israel.
Yet, wars like the one we're experiencing now ask each of us to sacrifice. The fear that we feel is a sacrifice. The pain we're enduring is a sacrifice. And that sacrifice, rather than driving us away from the Land, brings us only closer to her. If you've ever sacrificed for something: a loved-one; a degree; a project - the greater the sacrifice, the more connected you feel to that thing.
Hamas, rather than driving us away, is only bringing us that much closer, and making the entire population of Israel, that much more connected to our Promised Land.