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Nechama Eisenman

Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Just a sampling of the letters and notes that accompanied every sweet act of kindness <3
Just a sampling of the letters and notes that accompanied every sweet act of kindness <3

We Jews are ‘eye-for-an-eye’ People.

“Ayin Tachat Ayin” is an actual commandment that expresses reciprocal justice. (Shemot 21:23–27)

Indeed, justice is the lifeblood of our faith. And not only shown by the disproportionate number of Jewish attorneys!

God and the Torah are just, and even the Hebrew word for charity – “tzedakah” – translates to “social justice”.

The same goes for the Hebrew word “tzadik” – righteous one.

How, though, does one repay pure, merciless evil measure for measure?

Carrying out reciprocal justice for the Hamas barbarism of October 7th and beyond…would go against every moral code in our Torah and humanity.

Over the past 12 days, I’ve discovered how.

 

See, even though the original “eye for an eye” commandment relates to punishment…in the stunning way that only Jews can, we’ve flipped it on its head.

Instead of responding with proportionate brutality, we increase equal goodness.

For each piece of blackest night sky, we offer the most radiant of suns.

I’ve heard the reason Jews have so many children is to make up for the decimation of 6 million in the Holocaust. Now, after a modern-day genocide that made the Nazis look tame, I’m seeing another such “retaliation”:

For each act of vicious inhumanity inflicted by Hamas…

there is an equal and opposite display of pure, undistilled goodness.

I should know; I’ve been the recipient of it for the past 2 weeks.

While my husband fights on the front lines… I battle fear, anxiety, loneliness, and 3 hyperactive kids with no school.

How can I describe the overwhelming kindness with which am yisrael has enveloped my family?

If this light were literal, we’d be blinded by a thousand suns. Luckily, on a global and personal level, we’re not blind to it.

We’re not blind to the tray of cookies baked and delivered by neighborhood kids with the handwritten, heart-strewn, “We’re thinking of you”.

We’re not blind to the millions of dollars worth of supplies… chartered flights filled with food, tactical gear, and solidarity for our brave soldiers.

We’re not blind to the 4 young men who arrived to take down my sukkah after my husband left to reserve duty. We see the fresh oatmeal cookies their moms sent, too.

We see the Instagram posts offering free head coverings to wives or moms of IDF soldiers. We see companies offering free wigs as a zechut for this war to end and Mashiach to redeem us.

Our eyes were wide open when a friend took my kids to her house after my husband drove to the army base on Shabbat. She watched them for hours so I could cry without them seeing.

USA kosher food establishments donating proceeds to אחינו בית ישראל, WE SEE YOU.

It would be impossible to not see my friend Tamar, who, although battling her own personal hell…all but moved in to become my “War Nanny”, as my kids call her.

I’d have to be sightless to not notice the disappearing loads of laundry… the dishes washed and put away… the organized cabinets… the chocolates, treats, and games she plies my kids with all day long.

And you know what? In the same way Hamas and news sites spare no gory detail, I too, will list each chessed done for my family and nation.

For every murder…There are countless WhatsApp & FB messages, EMAILS, and even handwritten letters…checking in… sending love and strength… and praying for my husband and all our soldiers and civilians safe and speedy return.

In place of an 11-year-old girl ruthlessly taken hostage in Gaza…there is a girl the same age in Monsey with a “Cookies For Tehillim” stand.

For the death of a young mother…there is a mother and friend who packaged 50 “cookie kits” and raised over 1500 shekel in donations. She’s the same one who brought me Mimosas so we could make a “L’chaim” (in the truest sense of the word!)

Instead of monsters murdering families in their beds…Absolute strangers – now family – have reached out and offered to make dinner.

For 8-year-old Emily killed at a sleepover…A friend gave us her guest bedroom and pretended WE were helping HER by entertaining her toddler.

Instead of the terrorists who came unannounced…The friend who didn’t ask or offer, yet told us he’d be sending pizza for lunch. He purchased and delivered the ENTIRE menu. And when we tried to thank him, responded that he was sleeping in his own bed at night and felt useless. (Although… funding a camp for evacuees from the south and children of reservists is the opposite of useless.)

For all the parents ripped from their children…I see my parents, although not feeling well… busy in their own right with helping the war effort… and in the midst of renovations.. having my kids over at any hour, anything to help me cope.

Every single despicable act of terror is being paid back, measure for measure…in beautifully packaged cookies and cakes…ice cream from my company….burgers from my husband’s. All accompanied by words of love and encouragement.

Instead of the look of shock and horror left in the terrorists’ wake…I see the look on my neighbor’s face when I ask if I can store all the delicious homemade challah in her freezer because I want to extend the love into the coming weeks.

Our weapons don’t spread hate or fear. They are love itself.

Instead of launching rockets…Jews launch charity pages, garnering millions in donations.

Instead of sending missiles…We send catered Shabbos meals to army spouses and thousands of pairs of tzitzit to our male soldiers.

Instead of beheading babies…We send children missing their parents bags bursting with toys, games, and activities.

Instead of brutally murdering friends at a festival…My seminary friends got together to order me sushi.

Instead of spreading propaganda…An Instagram activist uses her platform to send dinner and cleaning help to army wives like me.

Instead of chanting hate speech, we chant words of Tehillim, more meaningful now than ever.

I’ve been “attacked” with endless bouquets of flowers…candy platters, thoughtful notes, fresh salad and muffins, and grocery pickups.

For every life savagely lost, life is given.

For every careless rampage…there is endless thoughtfulness.

Like my work that has silently been extending deadlines and treating me with such care and concern and PATIENCE.

It’s the friend down the block who sent a fresh pot of chicken soup and challah… and the friend one flight up who sent matzah balls. It’s the friend in the next building who sent piping hot kugel.

It’s the sound of heart-rending singing coming from the shiva across the street where a father buried his son who wanted nothing more than to sing in peace.

It’s the long-lost friend in Florida who somehow managed to book a massage for me and leave a gift certificate at the toy store for my kids.

It’s the friend across the hall who loving made me breakfast and then made me eat it.

We see it all.

And there’s no doubt in my mind that God sees it too, just waiting to serve some “eye for an eye” of His own.

May that day come speedily.

About the Author
Nechama Eisenman is an 11 year consecutive winner of the "World's Okayest Mom" title, and never met a carbohydrate she didn't like. She rejoices in finding G-d in the mundane, is madly in love with her husband and 3 little girls, and relies on spurts of infectious baby giggles to get through the day.
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