In recent weeks, I have felt that I must stay silent. My political words are words of criticism for the Israeli nation, and you don’t criticize your family when they are in mourning. And we are definitely in mourning right now: A three month old baby at a light rail stop, a young woman waiting for the bus, men lifting their hands up in prayers of peace – how can we not mourn? Each day, we are reminded of how much we need the redemption. For some, that word might signify a political solution to the conflict. For others, it might signify the coming of the Messiah. But, while we might not agree on the definition, we can all agree that we are waiting for some sort of miracle that will bring a day when we can live on this land in peace.
Some might ask why my political views are critical of Israel, and not of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. Answer: I have plenty of critical words about both organizations, but my political views are about what I can change. I can’t change the Palestinian Authority or Hamas’s behavior. However, as a citizen of Israel, which is a democracy, I can hope to change Israel’s behavior, by exercising my rights to free speech and of course, my right at the voting booth.
I will not voice those views here, because we are in mourning. Instead, I will note that the terrorists are committing acts of pure hate. If we let ourselves become hateful people, then we are letting them win. If they are able to change who we are, as individuals and as a nation, then we are giving them a victory.
And now I want to say, “So let’s not let that happen”, but I can’t. I can’t, because after hearing the news of yesterday’s attack, all I want to do is sit around crying. I can’t because how can I tell someone who lost their baby what to feel inside? How can I judge their emotions?
So instead, I will revise my hope: Let us not commit acts of hate. Whether its “vandalism” or something more extreme, please let it not happen here – not from our side.
Whenever I feel sad about the situation, which is quite a lot these days, I think of the following rabbinic story:
There were two brothers who lived on opposite sides of a mountain. Every day, the brothers worked together in the fields. Every night, each brother snuck some of his own wheat into his brother’s house. Every morning, each brother was puzzled that the amount of wheat in his own house remained exactly the same, until one night, when they bumped into each other on the mountain top, their arms full of wheat. They dropped the wheat and embraced. Because of this moment of brotherhood, God chose to build His temple on top of that mountain.
Modern me sees this as a lovely political allegory: In the story, two people’s giving up on something they are each technically entitled to results in the building of the Temple in Jerusalem. At the same time, the story only works because both brothers give up on their rightfully earned wheat; if only one brother were giving, this would simply be a tale of one person being taken advantage of by another.
But spiritual me sees something more important: In the story, Jerusalem is chosen to be a city of God because it is a city of peace – perhaps the two are in some ways synonymous. And if Jerusalem once was such a city, I can pray to God that soon it becomes a city of peace and a city of God once more; I am only asking for us to return to who we truly were meant to be.