Here We Go Again

The words almost sound like they should be followed by a deep sigh, but ironically, they first came to mind when I was thinking about the fact that amidst everything else (note: constant attacks everywhere), this is the week we “get back to normal”, starting with Parshat Bereishit this past Shabbat. During shul I was mostly thinking about how the parsha starts with the second letter in the aleph-bet, instead of the first, showing how our readings, like our year, are cyclical. I was also thinking that we end the High Holidays on almost a sad note, by davening maariv right after Yom Kippur and already starting with the tefillah where we ask forgiveness. Didn’t we just finish the holiest day of the year? What could we have done in the first five minutes to apologize for already?? Well, as my husband jokingly tells our son, if he doesn’t know what our son did, our son probably does. And this is the point. We are just coming down from the high of Succot and Shemini Atzeret, when we read how the most perfect person in the world, who had everything he could possibly want including direct contact with G-d, sinned. And G-d says to him, “Äyekah, where are you?”

Really? G-d doesn’t know where Adam is? Tell me another one. Of course he knows, but as the commentaries point out, He is starting His rebuke in a gentle way. “Adam, look at yourself. Look how far you have fallen. I placed you in Gan Eden, and you couldn’t keep the one mitzvah I asked of you.” Adam admits his sin, and says, in effect, that not only did he do it, but he would probably do it again if the temptation/choice was in front of him! This is not meant to be chutzpah but despair, the way we (I know I do) sometimes feel during the High Holidays when we are confessing to the same sins we did teshuva for last year. And we, generations removed from G-d’s first, perfectly made creation, feel like we have even less of a chance to work on ourselves as we should, to perfect ourselves. But this parsha is showing us that we could do the most awful thing, like Cain murdering Hevel, and yet there is room for teshuva if we only make the effort. (Credit for some of the ideas above goes to Rabbi Frand and other drashas I have read.)

Then the words here we go again took on new meaning in my head, as the week continued what started over chag with the awful murder of two parents in front of their young children, and it just keeps going. But we are fighting back. We are fighting with umbrellas, nunchucks and selfie-sticks, with groups standing up to these monsters, and with positive responses like this amazing video out of the Shomron.

I can’t seem to stay off media, even watching the Hebrew news (Nine-year Aliyah milestone: I can understand most of it!…And all of the instructions for a frother, but that’s another subject). So in the same breath I give a thumbs up to the inspirational video, because that’s who I want to be, but simultaneously Like a post about a self-defense course, because that is part of who we need to be now too. And who cares what the world thinks? The EU rep saying “we” (both Arabs and Israelis) should calm the situation down—ugh! I just want to send a wake up splash of coffee in her face and ask what are “We” doing other than dying, or possibly defending ourselves?

Now I’d like to ask all of the innovative Israelis out there to come up with something we need so badly: a crazy detector. Because on my way home from work on Sunday, I drove past the spots where just about a year ago Dalya Lemkus was killed, across from where only months prior to that the boys were kidnapped. Then I pulled into the local garage in the Gush, where the Arabs I met with joked around and smilingly fixed my car. After that I went into the local supermarket, where I often greet and exchange small talk with Arabs from Beit Jalla and the Gush area. So could somebody please tell me why it seems to me that some of them just want to live and work in peace with us, while others are ABSOLUTELY INSANE? And what do I do about it? I just want to live and enjoy our land, and let them live their lives, but now I feel like telling my husband that I don’t want him taking the bus in for “now”. Both of our events in Jerusalem were cancelled tonight, and as much as I didn’t feel like going, the fact that it was called off is frightening in its own way. They call it a “wave” of terror, and it’s true–it just keeps happening over and over, only worse all the time. In the mall someone said that it’s like the movies, where suddenly someone pulls out a knife and you never know who it’s going to be. Why should we have to live like this? Then again, one online commenter who said we should just ‘cleanse’ (nice word, is that like Judenrein?) the area can’t be right either.

I would love to carry a crazy detector (along with my pepper spray-which I bought as a Chanukah present to myself last year) so I could know if that guy in a Bezek uniform is thinking about how great it would be to spill my blood, or whether I can get on a bus in the city or even stand at a bus or train station without worrying who is planning to drive into it.

What is important right now is that we remember who we are and where we are, and that it is always okay to stand up for yourself and defend yourself. This is the thought that keeps getting me up on the morning.

Our year has started out terribly. It is up to us to remember that there is always room for improvement. I ask for G-d to give us the strength we need to get through this terrible time, and help us all find peace.

About the Author
Mori Sokal is a TWELVE 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, and has published articles in Building Blocks, the Jewish Press magazine.