Shalom Menora Update Day 13 “Israel at war” blog – Thursday Oct 19, 2023 8pm, Israel time
“Am I my Brother’s Keeper”
I wanted to share a thought from the weekly Torah (Bible) reading last week. It’s Thursday night in Israel and I have not given an update since Friday night, as I think all of us are running on adrenaline.
On Shabbat (Sabbath), I was able to force myself to take a little time and go to the synagogue.
I was with mostly people from either Sderot, Ashkelon (both in the South), or Shomi (in the North).
I happened to be at the Dan Hotel in Casarea, which became temporary housing for relocation. 80% of the people were displaced because the army relocated them and 10% were people who couldn’t fly back to the States or Europe due to flight cancellations. We ended up staying, as it allowed the little kids quiet and allowed me to focus on the war efforts in my little private workspace there.
I often am the person reading the weekly Torah portion and I did so at the hotel.
We read from Genesis (בראשית)), which begins with the creation of the world on the first day and then man at the end of the sixth day.
However, things didn’t go perfectly and almost immediately the first sin occurred. Man ate the forbidden fruit from the tree. When confronted by G-d, he tried to hide, but to no avail. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the snake, and the snake got the worst punishment for being the instigator.
The results: man must work hard and sweat to survive and thrive. Women have labor pains while giving birth. The snake was reduced from a creature with legs, to a crawler who ate dirt and tried to bite man.
Man and woman received punishments that can be a future blessing. The ability to succeed after hard work and feed a family is rewarding. The ability to raise a child only after going through labor pain is gratifying. These remind us that from every mishap there is a bright future. Every hardship might yield a great result. Or as they taught us “no pain, no gain.”
But the snake was not given a chance to turn a mishap into a bright future. Why?
It occurred to me that we use the phrase, “He is a snake!” to articulate that someone is an instigator, a bad person, something that is not associated with potential good- rather- all evil.
Hamas, the instigator, has no good potential. They were given billions of dollars and have only used it for evil both to us and their own brothers in Gaza. Instead of building housing for the babies born through labor and allowing people to do hard work and have bread, they took all the money donated and built a destruction machine leading to 7,000 rockets shot at innocent civilians, weapons, and a plan to raid and BUTCHER, men, women, and yes, CHILDREN. They are in gross violation of moral standards of the whole world.
Israel has moved tens of thousands out of harms ways, to hotels, relatives, and any other place.
Hamas blocks the roads, threaten the people and then lock them down to stay as human shields.
All because they violate the first rule of decency by embedding their operations in or around schools, mosques, hospitals, residential buildings etc. And this lead to their own shooting of Missiles and striking their own hospital.
The next story is Cain and Abel.
Cain kills Abel and then says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
The thought occurred to me that this is both an Arab and a Jewish question, as we all are descendants of Adam.
I can’t answer for Gazan’s as to who will be their brother’s keeper to turn “hard work” into a decent life and who can turn “labor pain” into a good healthy child.
But from the Israeli side we must learn to stop fighting each other and understand that “if we are not our brother’s keepers” in good times, we are going to be forced to be “our brother’s keepers” in bad times. The unity in the last week of Jews around the world in support of Israel, is amazing ..Unfortunately, we are paying with a loss of life and loss of homes, a loss of dignity and every other trauma you can imagine.
I’m pretty sure that most of the people in Gaza just want to work, bring up their kids and live a normal life. Over the years I have seen and heard this myself from people. However, their brothers from Hamas have no interest in what the people want. Same for the Israelis, most people just want to work hard, bring up kids and have a normal life. However, if we are a light unto the nations, we are the ones who need to prove to ourselves we can “be our brothers’ keepers” and not repeat the terrible tragedies of the past.
It’s easy to say, “I am right” and it’s easy to say, “tell the other person to change.” But the truth is we are always busy blaming the other person and thinking we are right.
I read an article by Susie Weiss from Raanana last week. In 2005, her son Ari jumped on a grenade and gave up his life and saved the rest of the soldiers in his unit. No one is asking each of us to be such a hero. But whether it is religious, judicial social, economic or any other issue, I realize that if Ari Weiss can give up his life to save others, we can all give up some of our “we are right” perspective to build unity and prevent ourselves from getting to the point where we are today.
Chazak V’amatz (be strong and with courage) and may we stay united to win and then build unity by “giving up” and “giving in.”
I would like people to add a prayer for the safety of every soldier. I have no doubt that there are soldiers in units whose parents are squaring off on opposite sides of the spectrum. But just as we pray for their safety now, I pray that the “am I my brother’s keeper” in the army rubs off on all of us who are safe because of the unity of our kids on the front lines.
Am Yisrael Chai
May G-d give his nation strength – but bless us with peace.
ה עוז לעמו יתן ה יברך את עמו בשלום