Daphna Small


We are in the fourth week of the war and we are being constantly reminded that it will last a long time. Fortunately, I’m prepared as I’ve heard that the prophecies say nine months, like a pregnancy. I’m hosting a family of evacuees from the north. A grandmother, mother and two small boys are staying in my basement. They immigrated from Russia five months ago, escaping the war there and now they are refugees again. During the first week of the war I had an Israeli family of evacuees from Ashkelon. A couple with four kids whose apartment building was hit by a rocket. They were in their bomb shelter at the time. They arrived looking exactly as I’d always imagined what shell-shocked would look like, very pale. They stayed for a week and then went to be closer to their family and the oncology department where the mother is a patient. The penny has dropped, because we’re in the dead center of the Mideast jungle, we need to read the room.

The chutzpah of the Hamas is as endless as their cruelty. Last Thursday morning, I read the TOI headline: ‘Hamas calls for mass protests to demand opening of Rafah border. Rafah is actually called Raphia, a place that appears on the maps of King David and King Solomon’s kingdoms, along with the city of Azza named after the fallen angels Azza and Azzael of Genesis. Together they settled there and made it Azazel, the Hebrew term for Hell. If the evil one does actually reside in Azza, it would at least esoterically explain the creatures that came out of there on October 7th.  That perhaps they were not actually human beings but rather his fiendish minions. At the moment it is the only way I can wrap my head around it as I did watch all six seasons of Lucifer on Netflix. The fact that they still feel the right to ‘demand’ anything is the definition of chutzpah. But then there is a lot of it about.

Chutzpah is a term in Yiddish that has become part of the global vernacular. It is the noun of the Hebrew word Chatzaf – In the Jewish tradition, chutzpah has many meanings. The first mention of chutzpah in the classical Jewish sources is in the Mishna, in Masechet Sota 9:15. The phrase employed is surprising, perhaps: In the messianic period chutzpah will prevail. Chutzpah is also mentioned twice in the Talmud, on the same page, in Masechet Sanhedrin 105a. The first mention is that Chutzpah carries its point, even against Heaven and later on that Chutzpah is royalty without a crown. Is it possible that the chutzpah of Hamas is a sign that this is the end? One of my favorite Hebrew songs is Chayat Habarzel- The Iron Beast by Meir Ariel. I’ve also been thinking of the dream of Daniel, especially when I first saw the images of the USS Gerald Ford, when it arrived in the region, appearing like the Tannin with its teeth of iron and steel. Tannin is also the name of a new dolphin class submarine belonging to the Israeli navy.

One could imagine that the Hamas varmints are angry and that this is why they are Chutzpadik, but there is a difference between outrage and malevolent evil. In Hebrew one of the names for the devil is the Nachash– the snake. In Genesis it says: Vehanachash haya arum mikol chayot hasadeh– And the snake was more artful than all the animals of the field. The word Arum can also be translated as naked or bare faced which is also Chutzpah, but Rashi explains that it means cunning, slithering underground. I think of Hamas hiding, deceiving and manipulating us, lurking in their subterrestrial lairs with their devious tactics. The word devious is also rooted in and means of the devil.

I felt anger one morning as the phone call with my boy at the front was filled with long silences during which I sensed he was holding back the tears. Last Thursday was Rachel Imeynu’s Yahrzeit, it is the day she died. She is one of our four biblical mothers. The most famous line about her is “Rachel mevaka ahl baneha.” – Rachel cries for her sons. She died in childbirth and is considered the soul who has God’s ear. I lit a candle for her to pray for my son as well.

I had a short visit from a very old friend that afternoon. We attended film school in New York during the same years. His son was also one of the lucky ones who had not gone to the Nova party.  The young couple his son was supposed to drive down to the party with, both lost a leg from a grenade explosion, both lost their right leg. I don’t know a single person who has not been touched by the nightmare that is our current reality. There are basically zero degrees of separation among the people of Israel, thank God.

It is difficult not to feel anger, but we must never allow it to evolve into hatred, as this is the greatest danger to our people and the whole world. Hatred towards the Jewish people and hatred within the Jewish people is Antisemitism, but it is just one form of hatred. It has been analyzed and exposed ad nauseum. I feel very fortunate as I have never actually felt hate for anyone and still don’t. I believe that no infants anywhere are ever born hateful. I saw an Instagram clip of Sharon Stone tearfully asking: When do small children or toddlers become hateful? At what age? At what size? Hate is something you have to be educated and taught to feel. It is like a mutation that occurs in the DNA when a child is abused and miseducated from a young age. It doesn’t actually matter if you hate Jews or any other group, hate is evil energy and power.

Autumn is here so the weather is changeable. The Chamsin, a dry, dusty, and generally hot desert wind arrived on Friday morning, unseasonably late. It only lasted a day but a small fire in Givat Eden, a neighborhood not far from mine was quickly put out. Every time there is a Chamsin, the menace of fires which have been intentionally set in recent years exists. Imagine that you are living in California and every time the Santa Anna winds blow, you would have to be concerned that someone would deliberately start one of those raging wildfires. It’s a form of eco-terrorism when the weather is accommodating, not often reported. It is astonishing how many various types of terror the prince of darkness can come up with. It is clear that his aim is to make us live in fear. We will not!

Some days I scan a website called MEMRI, it was there I saw the headline that has to win the Greatest Chutzpah Award for this week: Iranian journalist Ali-Akbar Abdolalizadeh: One of the greatest genocides in history is the massacring Of Iranians by Esther; Jews were responsible for massacring Native Americans, Blacks, And Irish; The Holocaust- A big lie. If it was not so sad, it would be comical. My lifelong friends from school in London who are from Iran, write to me in support and remind me that the Mullahs are not the Iranian people. The people of Iran have been hostages of these fundamentalists, for the past 44 years. I wonder why the global feminist leaders are not up in arms for the oppressed women of Iran, is that a Chutzpah or just hypocrisy? The Irani leadership also have no lack of Chutzpah, demanding that the US stops blaming them for the massacre.

On Friday morning there was a high alert for terror activities all over the country as the Hamas had demandeddemonstrations. In the middle of the day there was a direct hit by a missile in Tel Aviv. But then in the late afternoon my prayers were answered. My son surprised us and came home for his birthday, it was the best gift I ever got from the cosmos. I had all four of my children at home for Shabbat and felt completely blessed. When he left, we hugged for a long time. I could tell that he was having a hard time reconciling the different realities. But he said: It is so beautiful here, Yesh Le’an Lachzor, there’s somewhere to come back to. Veshavu Banim Legvulam- May all our sons, daughters, soldiers and hostages be brought home safely. Yesh Le’an Lachzor…We are all waiting…

Am Yisrael Chai

About the Author
Daphna Small- An Israeli writer born in Austria who has lived half her life in England and the USA , as well as in Zichron Yaakov .