David Felsen

Thank you, HaShem

HaShem, source of all that is good and all that has been good for me, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to see and learn and experience. Thank you for keeping me safe and allowing me to help, in some small way, Medinat Yisrael, Am Yisrael and B’nai Yisrael. Thank you, HaShem for allowing Medinat Yisrael to show me what I needed to see and experience.

HaShem, source of all knowledge and inspiration and hope, thank you for letting me see the land of my forefathers in a new way. Thank you for letting me see the beauty of the farms, and the trees, and the fruits, and the vegetables, and the animals, and the people who toil over them. Thank you for allowing me to see and understand, just a little, the miracle of a blooming desert and the backbreaking work necessary to have it survive.

HaShem, shield of Abraham and well of strength for David, thank you for the soldiers you had me meet. Men and women of courage and purpose. People who articulate a just cause, understand the importance of their duty and fulfilling their duty with honor. I sat with two for well over an hour.  Young fathers of young children whose young wives gave them a hug and a kiss as they got in my car. There were no tears from them as they headed into danger, just resolve. They spoke of national survival. They spoke of how they were inspired by those coming to help. They spoke of how they were inspired by people like me. Me? Who am I?They spoke as men of war, who understand that they fight for more than just the nation of Israel, but for Jewish survival, and for the Jews of the world – even those who did not stand shoulder to shoulder with them.  They spoke as warriors with the hearts and minds every Jew should be proud of. They did not cry, but I did.

HaShem, oh HaShem, in an idyllic place, Be’eri, whose name means “my well,” how could such a thing happen? I stood on the sidewalks between houses, looking at gardens planted with flowers and fruit trees. The same fruit I helped pick an hour before.  I looked at old trees and play areas, and schools, and destruction, and burnt houses and walls and doors scarred from bullets and grenade shrapnel. I looked at places families gathered, celebrated, lived…and died. I looked at safe rooms that were turned into ovens. I heard the voice of a girl trapped, as her brother and mother die and her father lay wounded.  I heard the story of brave people, not soldiers, people, who bravely defended their “well” from monsters.

They defended their homes, their loved ones, and the homes and loved ones of others from unimaginable barbarism. To make a stand and fight to the end until all that is left is an inscription on the wall at the place they died attesting to their bravery and how their memory will remain. How HaShem, does this happen? And the crime committed by those who lived at “the well”? They were Jews. There is not doubt that the people of “the well” suffered and died because of their connection to You. How HaShem does this happen? The attackers acted as animals, with malice, with no conscience and I believe no soul. And the attackers’ only remorse was that they wish they could have done more. My heart says that the almost 300 monsters whose dead bodies were removed from “the well” were not enough. My heart aches and screams. Even Jews living in this idyllic place, a place of happiness, family, of making the desert bloom, a place where people wanted and believed in and worked for peace with those who would carry out such unspeakable acts, even they were not safe. Oh, HaShem, how does this happen?

HaShem, source of all consolation, even with our enemies around us – those with guns and those with words, those who shoot rockets and rape, and those who distort and deceive – I see a country and a people standing for what is right.  I have never before seen so many signs of national unity. Even the graffiti on the road signs, which used to be about political party, now say, “Bring them home.”

I know there will be a reckoning, for our enemies and for us. But now, the task is at hand. We must stop those who wish to kill us, to exterminate us, to make us disappear. It is clear that the nation will stand firm and the people know what is at stake. This is not only a war about one pogrom. It is about the right to exist. I know there is suffering, but can we be held responsible for those who turned the land into an armed camp intended to destroy us? Can we be responsible because they deface the land with tunnels, and storehouses with rocket launchers under hospitals and schools and mosques? Tunnels, and storehouses with and rocket launchers meant to kill, kidnap, and destroy us. They hide in those places and then lie about it. They kill their own people and accuse us of blood libel. HaShem, I don’t want any more crying mothers or fathers, or babies, but I want to be allowed to be.

I take comfort in the things I have seen and heard. Mothers, who don’t sleep at night knowing their sons are doing what they must. Volunteers from around the world coming to help bring in the harvest. A nation that understands what it needs to fight for. I stand with them.

On prior visits I debated with a friend whether we think the Shechinah is in Eretz Yisrael, and if She is, where. We agreed that She was up the light rail in Jerusalem in the shuk, where the Jewish people lived, laughed, prayed, ate, and celebrated – where the Jewish people could just…be. In a time like this, how can we see, or even think, that HaShem’s presence is close? How, in such hard times can we think that HaShem’s love, compassion and justice is with the Jewish people? How can we think that the Shechinah has turned her face to us? Oh yes, She is in Eretz Yisrael. I can feel She is with us. She just has her face in her hands as She cries.

About the Author
David Felsen is an attorney in Rockville, Maryland and is a member of the adjunct faculty at American University’s Washinton College of Law. He has been involved in Jewish community leadership for over 25 years and lives in Potomac, Maryland with wife Debbie.
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