Mori Sokal

Missing the War


Life isn’t easy. You hear people say that all the time. Also, it is all about the choices we make, even when we feel we have no choice. On this night, the 17th of Tammuz, I am thinking about the two week anniversary of finding, not three (mostly) healthy boys to return home, but the bodies of three Kiddush Hashem neshamot. On that night, I thought my heart was broken. Then I had to leave the next day, on a planned trip to the states to be with my mother, may she have a refuah shelaimah, and felt completely cut off for the past two weeks while I had no time to go online. Leaving that morning felt wrong, like I was flying away from a funeral (or three) that I should have attended. I know that I personally had no part in what happened, or the consequences, but never in our almost eight years in Israel did I feel so strongly that I was a part of a larger whole, an integral member of Clal Yisrael, and it was not right that I should be leaving at that time. A few days later I was driving on the highway in New York and got stuck in the middle of what was obviously a funeral cortege, and I got tears in my eyes thinking “This is not the funeral I wanted to be part of.” Shortly after, I felt my heart broken again, when I heard about the murdered Arab boy. Despite all our feelings of wanting revenge, I felt that if it were truly that, I could not be more ashamed for the chilul hashem that had occurred. As of now, I am still unclear as to exactly what happened, so I will refrain from further comment on the subject, except to say I was proud to hear that so many Jews came out condemning it so quickly. Some in Gush Etzion even organized a rally, except it had to be postponed, because the war started.

Watching the war coverage from here is almost as painful as not knowing what is happening at all, because I know that the reporting is biased, and certainly not in our favor. I get so angry when I hear the world tell us to tone it down—“Really??” I want to shout, “Would you just sit there and take it? Didn’t think so.” To paraphrase Bill Maher, we went like sheep to the slaughter in the Holocaust—what was wrong with us? We are defending ourselves now and NOT lying down to be killed-what is wrong with us? What is wrong is that no matter what we do, we are held to nearly impossible standards, like this: Jews should do whatever is right for others, no matter what happens to them. Unfortunately, there are even examples in the Torah: Moshe Rabeinu had to die without stepping foot in his beloved Eretz Yisrael, after leading a difficult fledging nation through the wilderness and despite the way they behaved towards him, all because he did what he was told incorrectly. No, I am not judging G-d for His judgment, but I am saying that we are all held to that standard, even when it comes from a faulty human perspective and not a divine one. We are all meant to judge ourselves, as we will shortly be examining our own behavior over this year, but I personally reject the world’s judgment of us. We are doing what we need to do to defend ourselves, whatever the world thinks. Let us protect ourselves first and answer questions later, maybe.

When I finally went online yesterday, I saw on one Facebook page just how many sirens there have been, and that was only over the last few days. After getting over the shock, and understanding why my husband did not want me to see it, I could not help thinking about the Gulf War part 1, in 1991. We spent the first week of that sleep deprived due to hours overnight in the sealed room, while we waited to find out if they really had poison gasses to throw at us or not. At that time, many who were there for the year left, going home to understandably frightened parents. I do not blame or judge them, but I stayed. We made it through six weeks of war, which ended just as Purim began. I even had to tolerate comments about carrying my gas mask that day, as I had gone out early before the announcement was made. I didn’t mind, because I was so happy with the end result of the war, and I would not have made any other choice than to be there.

Now, as a friend told me, I need to be where I am, and I wouldn’t choose otherwise for personal reasons. Nonetheless, my heart is torn, because it is also there, and I long to step foot back in Eretz Yisrael. That this war should come on the heels of a national tragedy, striking while we are still mourning for our three boys, does not, however, seem such a shock at this time of year. As we begin our obligatory three weeks of mourning for the Temple, our Beit Hamikdash, we have already completed an additional two weeks, and the Frenkel, Sha’ar and Yifrach families have not even finished their shloshim. As I was also unable to attend shiva, I send a heartfelt “Hamakom Yinachem Etchem Betoch Evlei Tzion v’Yerushalayim,” to all three families.

As for the war, I just read tonight that now we are fighting with ourselves, considering (again!) giving in to demands, and giving up on our right to defend ourselves. It is as if that time period, those 18 days where we waited together, hoped together, and prayed together, ALL Jews and not factions, never happened. How soon we forget what is really important, and where we should all stand, which is together, anywhere. Reading about this, I felt as if I was having a nightmare from which I couldn’t wake up. What *is* wrong with us? Why can’t we have one moment of Achdus, and realize that if we are not united, the world will find the chinks in our armor and make us give up what we want, which is mostly just to live?

Let us pray that the end of this time of national tragedy, from the kidnapping to the war and the Three Weeks, though mitigated by loss, will be in simcha, with the return of peace to our land and nation, and the restoration of the Beit Hamikdash.

About the Author
Mori Sokal is a SIXTEEN 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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