David Debow

I don’t know

I don’t know.

I don’t know if returning 50 hostages for 150 convicted terrorists and a pause in fighting is a good decision. I don’t know.

I don’t know when our job in Gaza is finished and how much destruction we have to inflict for Israel to be safer.

I don’t know what to do with Gaza when this is over and who should rule that cursed land.

I don’t know what do to with the Arab village next door that is watching and learning and considering.

I don’t know.

Some people know and they seem very sure of themselves, and I thank them for that because somebody needs to make decisions and it certainly isn’t me. And some people know that what the people making the decisions are doing are definitely wrong because they are repeating the past mistakes that got us here in the first place.

As for me, I don’t know.

When this is over, we still won’t know if the consensus was wrong or necessary. We won’t know the path we didn’t take and where exactly it would have led.

When this is over, I still won’t know if the judiciary has far too much power and whether it needs to be revamped and how. But I will have learned something. That the other side must be saying something valuable because this is genuinely a hard question. There is lots we don’t know and the best part of being among Jews, in an open society is that people can and do raise the what-ifs, the alternatives, and make me question my every action. We will be coming back to a lot of unanswered difficult questions and many people will be quite sure that the events past show why they were right after all. Yes, certain, conceptions were shattered on October 7th. But we should be careful with the zeal with which we want to declare vindication. In this case, the admission that what I thought is no longer true should be sufficient. One need not press, nor would it be true necessarily to declare those that sought peace through concession were wrong, were always wrong, and are to blame.

The unity and brotherhood we are experiencing cannot last nor should it last. I pray the language of disagreement takes a different tone: I am not sure but . . .

But I do know some things. There are people that hate me and will destroy me if I give them the chance. That when Ben Gurion bravely declared the State of Israel, against lots of voices that said he shouldn’t, that he did a very good thing. That lots of people I disagree with are needed to keep this project afloat and quite possibly, I need their disagreement. That antisemitism is real, and powerful, and that I can’t rely on the world to confirm that I am right if I don’t know it myself.

About the Author
David Debow was raised in a sweet Jewish home in suburban Toronto and has always followed a spiritual path. He studied at Yeshiva University, Yeshivat HaMivtar and five years at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He taught in Cleveland, Ohio and has spent the past decade and a half creating and directing Midreshet Emunah v'Omanut - a unique Seminary dedicated to integrating Torah and the Arts. After sending off the final cohort of EVO students at the end of 5782 David spends his time at home, playing with his children and grandchildren while trying to edit Jewish publications for Koren.
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