No Reason to Celebrate

On the way to work this morning, trying to keep my balance on the bus, my phone buzzed with a news update:

“IDF kills two Palestinians wanted for the kidnapping, murdering of three Jewish teens.”

The murders of Eyyal, Gilad and Naftali are dead.

Marwan Kawasame and Amer Abu Aysha, taking cover in Hebron, were hiding in a home.  They fired at IDF troops and were killed on the spot.

In the moment, I want to jump up and down, to cheer and shout for “our team”! I want to rejoice in feeling safe, protected, and comforted with the knowledge that all is well. I am sure that once I look at Facebook and Twitter, I will read plenty of responses that are exactly that: celebrating as though there is some kind of victory in the deaths of Kawasame and Abu Aysha.

My initial reaction passes in a nano-second.

I cannot jump up and down in celebration. Nobody is freed of tyranny.  Society is not changed.  And, most importantly, the deaths of Kawasame and Abu Aysha will neither bring back Eyyal, Gilad and Naftali nor will it bring comfort to their families, as we were immediately reminded by Eyyal Yifrah’s father:

“There is judgement and there is a Judge but there is absolutely no comfort in that fact.”

We must take to heart the words of the parent of a child whose sole mistake was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no comfort in redress; rather,  redress is justice.  It is not comfort, neither to the parents nor to the country.

There are those who will seek to find some positive outcome from the murders of Eyyal Gilad and Naftali: “Their murders brought about significant damage to Hamas.” “The nation became united because of them…” “Because of Eyyal, Gilad and Naftali, we learned about the extent of the tunnels and destroyed them thus sparing the nation another tragedy that was to be carried out on Rosh HaShanah.”

I understand such sentiments but I cannot jump in with them. Souls are not pawns in the geopolitical battles of the Middle East.  They are not tactics in our battle with Hamas or all other terror organizations seeking our destruction.  They are human souls, souls containing within them the Divine spark, souls of our children, as the three boys became the children of each and every one of us from the moment they went missing.  We cannot allow ourselves, for even one minute, to de-humanize the three boys and use their deaths in such a fashion.

Please don’t misunderstand:

I am not sad that Kawasame and Abu Aysha no longer walk the face of this earth.

I do see them as human beings with souls, blessed with the Divine gift of free will, who rejected life and good in exchange for death and evil.

I reject the argument that the death of these two terrorists makes Israel less safe.

In fact, I believe that our country is safer because these two cannot kill anyone else. And

I am certain that we must reject the desire to cheer, to jump up and down, to pass out candy to celebrate the killing of these terrorists.

Entering the Rosh HaShanah, we are reminded that redress is in the hands of God. We are taught in the Torah that “One who murders another will himself be put to death by human beings.” And we are reminded by Eyyal’s father that neither of these statements bring about comfort for the families of the kidnapped boys, a sentiment echoed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon announcing the killing of the boys’ murderers.

I hope the coming year is one free of death at the hands of terrorists, that no other parents find themselves mourning the souls of children whose lives were cut short at the hands of those who hate us, and that 5775 is a year that shalom, so elusive until now, springs forth in all its glory.

That will be something to celebrate!

Shanah Tova u’Metukah

About the Author
Loren is a new Israeli Citizen and a rabbi. He lives with his wife and their two daughters in the Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem. Their son attends college in the US. Loren was the director of several Jewish overnight camps including serving as the founding director of Camp Ramah Darom and Camp Yofi: Family Camp for Jewish Families with Children with Autism.