I am trying to understand what is happening now in Israel. I fear on a very basic level that people will allow the worst to happen, to build up, to generate conditions from which they cannot back away. It’s basically a big game of chicken.
Watching my grandchildren play nicely together, until something changes and that equilibrium is broken but must be returned, according to 6- or 8- or 10-year old ideas of return. So if one of them gets wronged and hits the other, then, of course, the (second) injured one must return the favor. But of course, it’s always escalated. And of course, we adults always tell them what a mistake that is to keep seeking revenge.
Oh you see where I’m going…
I was a peacenik when I was young; I grew up in the times of the stands against the Vietnam War. When it was time to decide after we got married, whether we wanted to stay here in Israel, I could not bring myself to think that my brand-new husband or potential sons would have to serve in the army, as just and valuable as I knew that was.
So we went back to the states. My life in a nutshell.
I’ve been exploring the nature of economic value; what we place as valuable and why we should or should not change our evaluation. A book that I’ve been reading is The Economic History of the Jewish People by
And yet–his thesis is that the rabbis, in particular, were able to take the violence and aggression that existed “naturally” in the world and transform it to economic remuneration. So, the Torah text found (first) in Exodus 21:24
: עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן שֵׁן תַּחַת שֵׁן יָד תַּחַת יָד רֶגֶל תַּחַת רָגֶל:
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
should actually be read “in place of”, meaning, monetary payment.
(See Rabbi Ari Kahn here for a great treatment of the subject.)
Bottom line–we NEVER are to take it on ourselves to exact revenge. That is not our job. Our job is to transform it to a just evaluation of the loss. And even if there are cases that merit corporal punishment, it is for the person who committed the crime, not a random act of revenge! We must figure out how to do better than the little kids, however nuanced and layered the situation is.
I was going to post photos of how the women here in Israel often dress in layers–headscarves over headscarves, shirts over shirts, skirts over skirts.
But I think I will just post some photos of the land.
These are from a walk we took up in Safsufa, which is right next to Mt. Meron, last week.
Okay, so I did throw in a photo of the women and their layers.
I’m sitting in my room right now in my daughter’s house in Efrat. There was a siren that went off, just shortly after she and her husband went out on a date to the grocery store. It certainly got my attention. I realized I had no idea what to do.
My daughter called and said I should listen to the army radio station and see what they said. They said that there are rockets falling in the south and that people were to be 15 seconds away from a rocket-safe bomb shelter. 15 seconds.
But nothing about Efrat. Finally, I found somewhere that said that the siren in the West–Jerusalem and this area–was a false alarm.
It wasn’t false in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Netivot. I don’t know what to say should be the right response, but I do know something is warranted.
Hamas is proud of itself, taking credit for this show. Oh so bravo.
Returning to Rabbi Kahn to close:
Although most of us are not blessed with the skills of the Vilna Gaon, the day will come when all the tensions will be resolved and we will be able to clearly grasp the unity of the Torah as the Word of God. God and His compassion and Judgment will be manifest. In the words of the prophet Yesha’ayahu, on that day we will see God “ayin b’ayin” – eye to eye:
1. Awake, awake; put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city… 3. For thus says the Lord, ‘You have sold yourselves for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money.’ … 7. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings the news, who announces peace; who brings good news, who announces salvation; who says to Zion, Your God reigns! 8. The voice of your watchmen is heard; together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when God returns to Zion. (Isaiah 52:1-3,7,8)