We grew up with visions of peace. We believed in the promise of peace in our lifetimes. We believed, with the innocence of youth and the rousing speeches of JFK that we could change the world.
I remember a 4th grade trip to the United Nations Building in Manhattan, standing outside among the flying flags of all the member nations, and reading the passage from Isaiah imprinted on the outer wall of the building:
“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they learn war anymore”.
And as more and more of the atrocities committed in Israel over the past 8 days come to light, it seems like just the opposite is true!
This operation was meticulously planned over a period of two years. From reports that we are hearing now, the terrorists staged demonstrations along the dividing fence as a camouflage to hide bombs that could be activated via remote control.
Certain key demonstrators were strategically placed to observe, to note schedules and rotations within army bases. They knew when the guards changed shifts, they knew the maps of the kibbutzim and the settlements that they infiltrated; they were prepared, with each unit knowing exactly where they were to attack. And for two years, they continued to study war.
It became a common site to see crowds protesting in the proximity of the fence.
Farmers, seemingly innocently working in agriculture, hid among themselves Hamas terrorists to learn all the ins and outs of Israeli security, and the placement of security cameras, among other things.
They coordinated unrest in areas of Judea and Samaria in order to create a need to redistribute troops, moving soldiers from the Gaza border to the West Bank.
They were able to breach the fence in between 20-30 entry points. They used drones to destroy security cameras. They sent rockets over the border causing civilian and military personnel to take shelter in secure areas. And then 200 armed terrorists approached the border, activated the preplaced bombs and drove across in a rampage of murder, torture, terror and bloodshed.
They entered military compounds, throwing grenades and taking the soldiers, who were in secure areas because of the rocket fire , by surprise.
And then tractors breached the fences and two thousand terrorists, hellbent on bloodshed, rushed into Israel.
I am certain that you are aware of the atrocities and I have no wish to give them more publicity now. I will just mention a couple that I read about in the newspaper. They made a point of meeting Palestinians at the border crossing, driving them to medical treatments in Jerusalem hospitals on a weekly basis. They made sure that their workers were paid a full salary even at times when security forces closed the borders and the workers were unable to perform their jobs. Their humanity and concern for the wellbeing of others did not stand in their favor and the terrorists showed no mercy when murdering them.
I want to bring this down to a more personal level. I have already written about my fears and my exhaustion. And I wrote about the boys from our neighborhood who were murdered at that doomed party. The family of the final missing boy received the closure that I prayed for, but not the way that I had hoped in the waning hours of Friday afternoon, close to the beginning of Shabbat. Their son’s funeral will be held tomorrow morning. May the memories of all of them be for a blessing.
We do not mourn on Shabbat. Yet, there was a need for people to come together, to recite Tehillim (Psalms) and to hear words of encouragement and strength from religious figures in the community.
I heard a lecture from Rabbi Baruch Hernick. He spoke at Tami and Beni Rachamim’s house, his words were in memory of Aviel Shalom. His words touched me deeply and I felt that I was so anxious to commit them to memory that it affected my ability to recall them properly. I apologize that I cannot express his words and do them the justice that they deserve. All i can do is to state the salient points.
His first point was that EVIL exists in the world, and mercy is not always a positive thing. He told of Avraham and Sarah. Sarah was barren so Avraham took her handmaid, Hagar, who bore him a son. As that son grew, Sarah had the foresight to see that Ishmael was not a good influence on Isaac and told Avraham to exile him and his mother. The Hamas are Bnei Ishmael, they are evil and inhuman, wicked and atrocious. They have proven to us how little regard they have for human life.
Another point is that the Jewish people are only a strong nation when they are a unified one. All of the inner fighting and hatred that we have experienced over the past year have only served to weaken us as a People, and fed exactly into our enemies hand.
The First Temple was destroyed because of idolatry, incest and murder; the Second Temple was destroyed because of Sinat Chinam, unbased hatred, which is worse than the previous things all put together. We have to take responsibility for our fellow Jews and to show respect and love for one another.
His final point concerned our God given right to the land of Israel. He quoted the first Rashi in the Torah, explaining why the Torah starts with the story of Creation. Rashi explains that the day will come when the nations of the world will call us an invading force, occupying the lands that are rightfully theirs. And our answer must be that God created the entire world and that it is HIS to give to whomever He wants and He has given this land to us. When we waiver in our belief that this is OUR land, when we doubt that it is our right to live and our religious commandment to settle every part of this land then we weaken our claim to it.
We will prevail. Our task in this world is to be a light unto the nations and we are starting to see the first rays of this light taking effect in all the support we are hearing vocalized, from the President of the United States , to the Prime Minister of England, to the mayor of New York. Financial support from companies such as Disney, Paramount, Bloomberg and many others and the tremendous military support from the US, England and France show that the light of truth and justice is beginning to shine.
Pray. Turn to God as our Father and ask Him to protect his children. We were given these for precious souls on loan, they are His for eternity. And may we be privileged to see the prophecies of Isaiah and his visions for peace come to fruition speedily and in our days. Amen.