Daniel Gottlieb

The Seventh Of The Month

It was the seventh of the month. A day of rest. The sky was clear.

At dawn most slept peacefully in anticipation of yet another peaceful and relaxing day. And then, suddenly, without any advance warning – at least any warning that people were willing to heed – came a swift, unprovoked, deadly, and devastating attack. The timing of the attack was unanticipated, however the prospect of such an assault was – or, at least, should have been – considered a possibility.

Even sleeping, the lion felt safe, invulnerable to serious attack. It felt well protected against outside insult.

Nonetheless, civilians and soldiers were killed and wounded. Property devastated.

But as extensive as the loss of life and the physical destruction were, the psychological blow was sevenfold. The belief – or least the feeling – that something like this could never really happen was shattered into a thousand pieces – as were the lives of the thousands of people there, their families, friends, and countrymen.

In fact, the actual damage was far more extensive than the many lives lost and unaccounted for or even the devastating physical damage wrought by the enemy; the psyche of the nation had been injured, its pride had been pummeled. Across the nation, the attack induced a profound sense of uncertainty about the future, a scary suspicion of anyone related to the enemy and intense worries about personal safety.  It was clear that a long and hard war now needed to be fought – but no one knew for how long or what the economic cost and human price would be.

The attack at first stunned the nation. How could something like this happen? How were we not able to foresee it and prevent it? Was this literally the beginning of an existential crisis?

But after the initial shock wore off, and it took a while for people to fully appreciate the magnitude of the massacre, the nation galvanized and rallied together. Political differences fell by the wayside. The nation was united in its hurt – but also in its resolve. The nation mourned its losses but also mounted its response. Even if the warnings went unheeded, the attack could not go without reaction – ultimately, of the most violent type.

That date was the seventh of December 1941 – one week before Channukah 5701.  The Imperial Japanese navy and air force had launched a deadly surprise attack on the American U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Unbeknownst to anyone, that fateful early dawn attack would signify the beginning of the sunset of the evil Nazi-Japanese axis. The war would ultimately exact a very painful price on the people of Germany and Japan but would also force those nations to reconsider their positions on the world stage and ultimately abandon their aggressive and adversarial attitudes.

We too had our 7th of the month – eerily reminiscent of what happened 82 years ago.

In the wake of the Hamas attack of October 7th on southern Israel, I believe that it would be apt to paraphrase the December 8th, 1941 address of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the joint session of the United States Congress:

“Yesterday, October 7, 2023—a date which will live in infamy—the State of Israel was suddenly and deliberately attacked by ground and air forces of Hamas…No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the Israeli people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe that I interpret the will of the Knesset and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory, and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces—with the unbounding determination of our people—we will gain the inevitable triumphso help us God.”

Ipsa Historia Repetit (History itself repeats)

About the Author
Dr. Daniel Gottlieb is a Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist and the Clinical Director of the Shinui Institute in Herzeliya Israel
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