Another Day in Jerusalem
Written on 30 Jan, 2004
Yesterday was quite a day over here. What mixed feelings! What an "Israel" day!
We started the day with all the talk about the "prisoner" deal with Hizbolla in which Hizbolla were giving us one Israeli (that they kidnapped) and 3 dead soldiers (that they killed) in exchange for 400 terrorists. Absurdity! As my colleague at Lindenbaum, Tova Rhein said, the Arabs take advantage of the fact that we value Kedushat Hachayim. We value life, our soldiers lives, our citizens lives. They see that as weakness, and so they attack and attack. Tova Rhein said. If this is our weakness, please God, bless us with more of our weakness - let us be always sensitive to our fellow Jews, to human life - and let Hashem find a way in which to help us to defeat our enemies and move onwards and upwards.
And then, I'm teaching at 9:00 a.m. and we hear about a pigua [terrorist attack]. One block from my parents' apartment. So you go all cold and rush for the phone. Thank God everything is alright! Everything? Yes? There are 10 dead, and countless wounded, and for many people, families, wives, husbands, parents, kids, life is never going to be the same. And so, Midreshet Lindenbaum, 120 students, pray, say Tehillim, ask God for Rachamim [mercy].
And we teach that day...Torah... Arvei Pesachim: May one eat on Fiday afternoon? ...where do our needs fall vis a vis the value of God's Shabbat, our Shabbat. Teaching Sefer Shmuel - the battles of King Saul: How much to trust and rely on God, and how much to rely on human iniative, human strength? And then the Book of Ovadia - God's vengeance against those who destroyed our Temple and land, and we engage in a penetrating discussion about how Jews don't call for vengeance, they ask God to take vengeance, to bring the world to Justice, to right the wrongs of History. No calls for bloodletting and "death to the enemy" but a plea that the world recognise God and morality and sensitivity, and truth.
And then, I run from work to the Old City, to officiate at a wedding. No ordinary wedding however. First, I run into traffic. No entry to the Old City! There is a "swearing in Ceremony" for Givati Brigade. The Old City is full of people. And I run – literally - to the wedding. The bride radiant, the Chattan also, but tense! And at this wedding both the Chattan (groom) and Kalla (bride) - for whatever reason - have little family, and few guests. It is a small gathering. Suddenly, out of one of the old-city alleys, 40 yeshiva boys from a neighbouring Yeshiva come singing and dancing to "mesameach chattan vekalla" and sing and dance the bride and groom to their wedding, to their chuppa (wedding canopy), overlooking the kotel, overlooking those Chayalim (soldiers), angels of God , who put their lives on the line, to protect God's holy people in his Holy Land. And we stand there, opposite Har Habayit, watching two special people building their own Bayit, their own Mikdash Me'att, which hopefully will bring us one step further to the growth and advance of our nation, to our Geula. And then later the 40 boys and a group of seminary girls return to dance through the evening with the Chattan and Kalla. What a wonderful chevra to give their time and energies to make a couple, who they have never met, happy!
We leave the Chuppa, dancing Od Yishama BeArei Yehuda Uvechutzot Yerushalyim - the words of the prophet, that on one future sitant time, maybe there will be marriages the joy of brides and bridegrooms in the squares and streets of Jerusalem, and we are doing it. We are there. We are fulfilling an ancient prophetic predication!
And then, I hear the Army commander at the "Tekes" talking to his soldiers. "We are building a strong ethical army," he says. "Even today, Israel is the one place in which Jews can feel the safest. "Sefer Yishayahu compares Am Yisrael to a tree" says the secular army Commander," Winds and storms might buffet the tree and even cut of a branch or two. But they cannot touch the roots. The roots of the Jewish people will always bring forth more life, renewed growth." Divrei Torah from a secular army officer! Wow!
And on the way home, in the car, as I hear the ceremony in which Medinat Yisrael receives its three dead soldiers from the Hizbolla. And our President, Moshe Ktzav, a president of our country who puts on Tefillin and davens daily, is speaking. Where is the world? He says. A terrorist organisation kidnaps and kills 3 soldiers. Any motions in the UN? Any calls for their freedom? Any outrage? Any international calls of condemnation? Nothing! But when we try to defend ourselves, we hear it loud and clear.
And as I drive back, from Yerushalayim to Gush Etzion, I try to absorb the highs and lows, the tragedy and inspiration of the day.
Just another day in Israel.