At the end of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), we recited Havdala, the prayer of distinction, as we do at the end of Shabbat (Sabbath) every week. In Havdala, we thank God for distinguishing between the holy and the profane, between Shabbat and the rest of the week, between light and dark. There is a fundamental importance in knowing the difference between things – especially the difference between good and evil.
In the last 48 hours, we and the rest of the civilized world have experienced a moment of extraordinary moral clarity, unobscured, as yet, by the murky machinations used to distort the distinction between right and wrong.
Remember this day. Remember this moment of moral clarity.
Right now, it may seem impossible to forget the outrage at the horrific, heinous actions of those who launched over 3,000 rockets at innocent civilians across Israel. How can the images of the hundreds mercilessly massacred at a nature concert ever fade from our collective memory? When will a time come that our minds no longer retain the memory of those murdered in their beds, the victims tortured, and whose dead bodies were mutilated and dragged publicly in the streets? How can we forget the faces of the innocents – men, women, children and elderly, as they were brutally dragged into captivity as the captors boasted how they would use these children to extract painful concessions from us.
Today we have seen the true face of our enemy. Remember this day. Remember the war crimes we have witnessed with our own eyes – the war crimes the enemy brags about and brandishes against us.
Because soon, as surely as winter follows autumn, the propaganda machines will start pumping out images that tell half a story, fabrications and declarations woven out of whole cloth, calculated calumnies and blatant lies that the world, eager to see a purported balance in the grand scheme of things, will swallow whole.
We have been here before.
We know that the world will tire of seeing the destruction in Gaza that we are forced to inflict on the monsters who orchestrated and carried out the events of the last 48 hours. We know the enemy will do their best to draw our fire, despite our best efforts, in ways to maximize casualties among their own people, especially children – the better to feed their propaganda machines. We know the time will come when we will be pressured to “bring an end to the conflict” and to “stop the suffering on both sides.” As a false and deceptive moral equivalence bobs to the surface, what we know and feel today with certainty will become indistinct, losing clarity behind massing clouds of confusion.
Do not forget! Remember this day!
When the time comes to decide whether we eradicate the scourge of those who performed the premeditated mass murder of innocent civilians, we must not forget this day. When we must resist the pressure to stop after carrying out half the job, or 90% of the job, remember this day. When we must face the heart-breaking dilemma of negotiating with the kidnappers – whether to reward them for their unspeakable sins, what we know with absolute certainty this day must guide us.
This day must never happen again.
The enemy has learned its lessons well. This carefully organized attack was designed for maximum carnage, primarily among unarmed civilians. And with the mass abductions, they thrust their knives into the ungirded soft underbelly of our society.
We have paid a terrible price for the lessons of this day.
We must not forget those lessons. We must do what we must do, even as it exacts a price even greater than we have already paid. And we must not stop until we are done.
The enemy must learn a new lesson – that attacking and kidnapping our people was the worst decision of their lives.
Remember the difference between the holy and the profane, between light and dark, between good and evil.
Remember this moment of moral clarity. Remember this day.