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Sound The Trumpets And Pray For Healing-We Are In Danger From Within

In this week’s Torah portion, we are commanded to make to silver trumpets that were blown when the Israelites were to gather, when they were to move, on holidays and in times of danger.

We are in danger now, and the danger is the culture of violence threatening us from within. The media is awash at the moment with the dramatic video of settlers stoning the car of Israeli human rights activists in Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills). They report that the army abandoned them next to Mitzpeh Yair, and did nothing when they were attacked.

Right now, as I write these words, I was just called by a young settler who justified the attack because these women are “traitors,” and wanted me to know that Itamar Ben Gvir is “a real man” because he hates Arabs.

Yesterday, the residents of Umm Al Kheir discovered that somebody had shattered the memorial to Haj Suleiman, run over earlier this year when a police vehicle carrying away confiscated cars backed over him.

The tablets are shattered yet again.

We also know that the Pride Parade in Netivot was cancelled because of threats against the organizers, and the Jerusalem parade was protected by thousands of officers, after a level of threats that I don’t recall from the past. It has become de rigueur to send bullets, whether to Pride organizers, or to the Prime Minister.

I and my volunteers were attacked and harassed several times this week by the shepherds and other settlers from the Ma’aleh Ahuvia outpost. Thank God, nobody was seriously injured. It wasn’t like some of the previous attacks I have suffered.

If Shabbat wasn’t pressing, I could go on. I haven’t even written about daily violence against Palestinians. The acceptability of violence towards those with whom we disagree is in stark contradiction with the words of our Haftarah, “Not by might and not by power, but by My Spirit says Adonai of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6), and proof of the midrash teaching that the hand that strikes the non-Jew will eventually strike the Jew as well. (Tanna D’Bei Eliahu)

Rabbi Hirsch emphasizes that the trumpets are sounded when a war is taking place “in your land,” and Sifri Bamidbar recognizes that threats are not only enemies threatening us from without, but all forms of oppression:

Piska 76
“And if you go to war in your land”: whether you go out against them or they come against you. Does this speak of the foe that assails you in the war of Gog and Magog or of wars in general? It is written (Ibid.) “and you will be saved from your enemies.” Go out and see: In which war is Israel saved without subjugation to follow? In the war of Gog and Magog, as it is written (Zechariah 14:3, 9) “And the Lord will go out and wage war against those nations … And the Lord will be King over all the land.” R. Akiva says: This (“then you shall sound the trumpets”) tells me only of war. Whence do I derive (the same for) blast, mildew, difficult labors, and tempest-tossed vessels? From (Bemidbar, Ibid.) “against the oppressor that oppresses you” — against any “oppression” that may befall the people. “then you shall sound the trumpets and you will be remembered before the Lord your G-d.” R. Akiva says: Now do the trumpets cause remembrance (before the Lord)? The intent is that if they were in a position to blow (the trumpets) but failed to do so, it is reckoned to them as if they were not remembered before the Lord. “and you will be remembered … and you will be saved.” Whenever Israel is “remembered,” it is remembered only for salvation.

But, we have another model in our Torah portion. When Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses, (only) Miriam is struck with a skin affliction. Moses, the offended party, prays for his sister’s healing “El na rafa na la,” “God, please heal her.” (Numbers12:13) We all must learn from Moses’ spirit of forgiveness, and desire for healing, even as he continued to teach God’s Word. In a spirit of solidarity, the Israelites wait for Miriam to heal.

I am not arguing for people to abandon their values in the name of forgiveness. Moses, who this week and next pleads with God on behalf of the Israelites, does not cease to demand that they obey God’s Commands. I am arguing for values that are not based on hate or the use of violence. In that spirit, I again post a “Misheberakh” prayer for the healing of the people and State of Israel:

“May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, bless and heal the State and People of Israel. May the Holy One of Blessing be full of mercy to us — to heal us from every illness and stumbling block that keeps us from fulfilling the goodness and aspiration for justice that is within us. Among them: Blindness to Your Presence in every human being and blindness to reality, deafness to the Still Small Voice drowned out by thundering fear and fearmongering and the sounds of war and singing in the camp, orders, despair, fatigue, indifference to the suffering of the other, the pain and anger in our hearts after two thousand years of oppression, the intoxication of power and sovereignty, hatred of those who think differently than us, disproportional love for the Land of Israel, the State of Israel, the People of Israel and anything holy that blinds us to Your Image and Your Will. Please strengthen within us our good inclination and revive our faith in the possibility of a repaired world under Your Sovereignty and our ability to bring that world closer to reality. Send us complete and speedy healing of body and soul, along with all who are ill, speedily and in our day. And let us say, Amen. “

Mi sh’beirakh kadmoneinu Avraham v’Sarah, Yitzhak v’Rivkah, Ya’akov, Leah v’Rakhek, hu yivarekh v’yirapeih et ha’kholim, Medinat Yisrael v’Am Yisrael. HaKadosh Borukh Hu yimaleh rakhamim aleinu l’hakhlimatanu v’l’rafotanu mi’kol makhalah u’mikshol ha’maksheh aleinu l’hagshim et ha’tov v’et ha’sheifah la’tzedek sh’b’libeinu. Beiniehem: ha’ivaraon l’nokhakhutkha b’khol adam v’ha’ivaron l’mitziut, ha’khershut l’kol ha’demamah ha’dakah sh’lo nishma b’tokh ra’ash v’ha’pakhad v’ha’hafkhadah v’kolot ha’onot v’kolot ha’milkhamah b’makhaneh, pekudot, yeush, ayafut, ha’atimut l’sevel shelha’akher/et, ha’ke’ev v’ha’ka’as sh’nishar b’libeinu l’akhar alpaim shnot dikui, ha’shikaron mi’koakh u’mi’shilton, ha’sinah l’khoshvim v’khoshvot akheret m’itanu, v’ha’ahavah ha’yiterah l’Eretz Yisrael l’Medinat Yisrael, v’l’Am Yisrael, v’lkhol d’var kadosh ha’misanveir otanu u’mastir m’itanu et tzelamkha v’ratzonkhah. Anah, he’khezeik banu et ha’yetzer ha’tov v’ha’khayeh et emunateinu b’olam mitukan b’malkhutkha u’v’yekholteinu l’karvo. Shlakh lanu b’meheirah refuah shleimah, refuat ha’nefesh v’refuat ha’guf, b’tokh sh’ar he’kholim v’hekholot, hashta b’agalah’ u’v’zman Kariv, v’nomar amein.

מי שברך קדמונינו אברהם ושרה, יצחק ורבקה, יעקב לאה ורחל, הוא יברך וירפא את מדינת ישראל ואת עם ישראל. הקדוש ברוך הוא ימלא רחמים עלינו להחלימנו ולרפאותנו מכל מחלה ומכשול המקשה עלינו להגשים את הטוב שבנו ואת השאיפות לצדק שבליבנו. ביניהם: העיוורון להימצאותך בכל אדם והעיוורון למציאות, החירשות לקול הדממה הדקה שלא נשמע בתוך הרעש והפחד וההפחדה וקולות הענות והמלחמה במחנה, פקודות, ייאוש, איפות, האטימות לסבל של האחר ושל האחרת, הכאב והכעס שנשאר בליבנו לאחר אלפיים שנות דיכוי, השיכרון מהכוח ומהשלטון, השנאה לחושבים וחושבות אחרת מאתנו, והאהבה היתרה לארץ ישראל, למדינת ישראל, לעם ישראל ולכל דבר קדוש המסנוור אותנו ומסתיר ממנו את צלמך ורצונך. אנא, החזק בנו את היצר הטוב והחיה בתוכנו את האמונה בעולם המתוקן במלכותך וביכולתנו לקרבו. שלח לנו במהרה רפואה שלמה, רפואת הנפש ורפואת הגוף, בתוך שאר החולים והחולות, השתא בעגלא ובזמן קריב, ונאמר אמן.

A long prayer, but we can shorten it to “El na, rafa na la.”

Shabbat Shalom

About the Author
Rabbi Arik Ascherman is the founder and director of the Israeli human rights organization "Torat Tzedek-Torah of Justice." Previously, he led "Rabbis For Human Rights" for 21 years. Rabbi Ascherman is a sought after lecturer, has received numerous prizes for his human rights work and has been featured in several documentary films, including the 2010 "Israel vs Israel." He and "Torat Tzedek" received the Rabbi David J. Forman Memorial Fund's Human Rights Prize fore 5779. Rabbi Ascherman is recognized as a role model for faith based human rights activism.
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