Chazak Chazak Venichazek- Be Strong and Be Strengthened

Earlier this week I was driving home and got to the light on Route 60 where you can make the left into Efrat North. This light only changes if it is tripped by a car on the pressure plate. Drivers may or may not know this, so I have noticed other drivers “helping” them out on occasion (sometimes passionately). The car in front of me, which should have been standing on the pressure plate, was about five feet (How many meters, anyone? Don’t ask me to do the math.) back from the turn and therefore was not causing the release mechanism to work.

So we sat there. I waited a minute to see if the light would turn anyway, but after a whole cycle of the other lights turning it was clear to me that he needed to move up. I flicked my brights but that didn’t really help because it was broad daylight. Then I gave a polite little honk. I noticed the driver look into his mirror and proceed to roll forward—about three inches (again, you do the math). Then a car pulled up behind me, waited about the space of a heartbeat and honked loudly. When this didn’t have the desired effect, the man got out of his car and went up to the driver in front to explain what he should do. I couldn’t believe it. The driver again moved about a millimeter (yeah, I figured it out). I saw the driver behind me (who had gotten back into his car) looking annoyed and realized that I had to take action. I pulled out and went around the front driver, triggering the pressure plate which then changed the light, finally.

As I drove home, I couldn’t help wondering how long the other driver had been sitting there, and also what possessed the guy behind me to get out of his car. The thing is, if all this had taken place in America, no big deal other than annoyed/annoying drivers. Okay, there is road rage—but that’s very unspecific or rather, not specifically targeted at me because I am a Jew. In this scenario, the reason I wondered about the questionable sanity of the driver behind me is because the reluctant driver was an Arab, and the guy who got out of his car on Route 60 had just about the hugest white kippa you could imagine. Any normal life scenarios take on different weight and meaning here, and I worried about this guy–as much as I wanted to move on, I would NOT have done that for fear of MY life. [Side note- I also wondered what the Arab driver was waiting for–an outside force that would come improve his life without him making any effort? A thought for future discussion.]

A short while ago, a friend posted that she had a breakdown on a major highway, and was scared out of her mind. Not that she would get hit by accident by some passing driver, not by the idea that wild animals might get her (the four-legged kind), but that she, alone and helpless, would be a ripe target for an Arab terrorist (the two-legged poraniyot). I worry about exactly this when I drive down our roads, especially when I see Arabs walking (or riding their donkeys) free from fear that they will be targeted and killed simply for being who they were born. I admit that it angers me as well, especially when I read the junk the world is spewing at us about how we are unfair to them, how Israel is an apartheid state…excuse me? No, excuse you. Because if that was the case we certainly wouldn’t have to worry that even though they were let into the mall because they weren’t carrying weapons, they could go into any kitchen store and freely buy anything they want to supply their needs for the current “knife-intifada”. They walk unreservedly through the country’s parks, shopping centers, highways, and Gates of the old city, which is what gives them the ability to keep picking us off one by one or more. (This is a reference to yesterday’s attack at Yaffo Gate, where two were killed and we are waiting for news about the third).

So you won’t find me getting out of my car to ask an Arab driver to move up—no way. I have even begun locking my door when home, for the first time in over nine years, since I heard about the terrorist who tried to get into someone’s house while she was home. Thank G-d she managed to push him out. It is beyond sad that although our fifteen year old is happy to have grown up here, our ten year old just said to me yesterday that she wishes we lived in America, because she is tired of being scared of attacks. It is also sad, as I posted (on Facebook) earlier this week, that when my son needed computer help and I told him to ask the computer teacher at school, he had to tell me sadly, “That was Rav Yaakov Don (z’l)”.

I ask myself what I want to happen, and I seriously don’t have an answer because I truly think that keeping them out of malls, parks and jobs at stores will only encourage more anger and hatred, at a time when we need to learn better how to live together. I know there are Arabs who just want to live in peace. If not, there would be even more attacks. But it is hard to live with the daily thought of “What is going to happen today?”, and feeling the need to constantly check news updates.On the other hand, I don’t EVER want to hear any more about Jewish terrorists, or Jewish celebrations laced with hate and horrific ways some Jews support murder of Arabs. There is no room for that in my religion, as the Chief Rabbi and many other politicians said, and if you do that it is by no means okay or self-defense. There is a Grand Canyon (or Maktesh Ramon) of difference in the two. Even though I will admit that I am not unhappy when attackers are shot on site, saving us the difficulty and expense of trying, convicting, and then paying for them to continue living (only to possibly be released at a later time in exchange for one of ours- at a rate of 1,000 to 1), there isn’t any justification for us to murder them in cold blood. The prophet Yechezkel said, “As I live, says the L‑rd G‑d, I do not wish for the death of the wicked, but for the wicked to repent of his way so that he may live.” (Ezkiel 33:11) [Not 25:17] From a great article that spells it all out, “We can hate the evil of a person, while appreciating that he is still the work of G‑d’s hands.”

What keeps my spirits up is all the articles about staying strong, the new school bells (which are either an agreement or a conspiracy because I hear them at work and locally) of “Am Yisrael, lo lefached, Hashem Itchem” (Nation of Israel, don’t be scared, G-d is with you), and the people who keep posting about joining efforts for prayer get-togethers or food gathering efforts for our wonderful protectors, our soldiers.

What we can do is keep safe (stay in our cars??), keep strong (like we say at the end of this week’s parsha, Vayechi, in the last chapter of Beraishit, the first book of the Torah) (and see this amazing video), keep going on, keep going out, and keep living in our country.

About the Author
Mori Sokal is a FIFTEEN year veteran of Aliyah, mother of three wonderful children (with her wonderful husband) and is an English teacher in both elementary and high school in the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem area. She has a Masters’ degree in teaching, is a copy editor, and has published articles in Building Blocks, the Jewish Press magazine.
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