The burden — and obligation — of sacrifice
Since the boys were kidnapped and killed, I have drawn shallower breaths. I have avoided anything that will bring out the sadness hidden beneath the thin layer of normal. I turn from things that will let out the wail that is always at the back of my throat and I shut the door on the torrent when it tries to escape.
I did not want to go to hear Miriam Peretz speak in Jerusalem Sunday night. I did not want to listen to the pain of a mother who had buried two sons in the service of this country. I did not want to open that door because I knew. I knew the emotion she would elicit would bring out the flood and the door would be torn from its hinges.
I also knew that I had to go. I had to go and hear her words. I did not have the right not to hear, not to know, not to share in her grief and appreciate their sacrifice.
I went. And I cried. And after she spoke, I sobbed in her arms. I could not speak afterwards and I still cannot speak of it. This woman, so full of faith and strength, buried two sons in service to the Jewish people.
In her words;
If I break they will have died for nothing. They died so I can live. So that their children can live. So that you can live. They died so that all of us can be here, in Jerusalem.”
Even in her nightmare, in her aching pain, she understands that their sacrifice was for the same Jerusalem that her parents and their parents dreamed of in the Sahara Desert through all the generations that yearned for home.
Miriam’s story is the story of this nation. It is the story of mothers who must bury their sons. It is the story of fathers, broken as they say Kaddish for the boys they raised. It is the story of a nation whose every moment is a gift from God paid for by every generation in the struggle to keep it.
This country, this small little country, is the only home the Jewish People has ever had. We are here by the grace of God and of every young man and woman who fights for it, who dies for it and yes, who has to kill for it.
This Land is bought with the blood of her people. I do not know why. I do not say it is fair. I cannot even bring myself to say the words out loud. But I also cannot pretend it is not so.
That is why it is so painful — so very very painful — when people choose turn their noses at the days coming this week. Yom HaZikaron is the day to honor the fallen, those who died for this country, for our right to live here, travel here, to know that it is here for whenever a Jew decides to come home.
To not stand in silent memorial while the siren keens, is to turn your back on the wails of the shofar and to separate yourself from the majority of your nation.
To say that Yom Ha’atzmaut, the day we celebrate the Jewish People’s return to their land, as a nation, is to celebrate the secular state which is un-kosher, is to deny God’s role in the return of His people and to deny the sacrifice that the Miriams of Israel have made for every Jew to be free in our homeland.
If I sound pained, it is because I cannot comprehend the mind of a person who can benefit from the sacrifice of others and yet not appreciate it, honor it in the very small way that is asked of them.
If you are one of those who does not stop at the wail of the siren, who does not give thanks — to God or soldiers — on the 5th of Iyar, I ask you to reconsider. What would you say if Miriam was before you? What would tell her are your reasons for ignoring the sacrifice she and her sons made so that you could stand here today?
So long as Jews want the security of having their own land, so long as the world sees fit to deny us that right in peace, our children will have to defend it.
It is a horrible burden, knowing that to live as a free nation, you must send your children to protect it, but it is a burden that we must all share and at the very, very least- it is a burden we must appreciate.
That is why I went to hear Miriam speak. That is why I will read her book, (Miriam’s Song). And that is why I will bow my head and weep when I hear the siren.
That is why I will celebrate with utter joy and gratitude to God and to our soldiers. To do otherwise is to deny the miracle of our return, spurn the sacrifice of the fallen, and ignore that they are the reason we can all walk free in this Land.