With the daily stabbings and terror attacks in Israel, I often find it hard to focus on anything other than the violence, the bloodshed, the beautiful Jews who were hurt and killed and the broken families. Yet, Judaism teaches us that as painful as things are, we are simply not allowed to mourn forever. We have fast days throughout the year which commemorate very sad events in our history, we observe Yom Ha’Shoa where we remember the horrible Holocaust and we have Tisha B’av where we sit on the floor as mourners and weep over the Bet Ha’Mikdash.
But then, at a certain time we get off the floor, shake off the dust and start building our lives. Jews never mourn forever! As painful as Yom Ha’zikaron (Israel Memorial Day) is – the day in which we cry over 24,000 lost soldiers who fell defending Israel – we somehow manage to rise up again. We turn our tears into cheers for Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) which begins exactly when Memorial Day ends. The same is true with Tisha B’av when we realize how far we are from being complete Jews. We read Eicha and say many prayers that bring us to tears. However, after just a few hours, the restrictions end, the steaks are back on the grill and the wine is flowing! Tu B’av – one of the happiest days in the entire Jewish calendar – is celebrated less than a week after Tisha B’av and we are all, once again, busy with dancing at weddings.
Why am I writing about this now? Simple! We just started the month of Adar when we celebrate the concept of “Ve’na’hafoch hu” – which means “Turning things upside down”. Adar was supposed to be the month when the Jewish nation was to be destroyed; men, women and children. This was the month of the first “Final Solution” and instead, Hashem turned it upside down by making us laugh when we were supposed to cry.
The problem is that it’s not easy to be a Jew… we know that. Turning tears into laughter is not simple and I must admit that it’s getting harder and harder for me to do it. The stories of the people being stabbed, shot and rammed with cars rip at my gut. A 19 year old girl – serving in the IDF Border Police (whose American counterparts are having fun in their freshman year in college) is killed as she heroically prevents a massive slaughter in Jerusalem. A young mother brutally stabbed while preparing dinner in her kitchen but in her final act protects her children from the murdering Arab construction worker. (No, I will not call him a “terrorist”). A 25 year old (dear friend of mine) who just concluded his elite IDF “navy seal” service – and about to announce his engagement – rammed by an Arab driver and killed while waiting with his girlfriend for a bus. The list goes on and the pain runs deep but we must – somehow – do three very important things that will help us achieve the true joy of the month (actually TWO months) of Adar.
First of all, we must never grow accustomed to these tragedies. We must never say, “Oh, just one was killed?” or “I hope he/she wasn’t religious” or “That’s terrible… what did the Yankees do?” We must feel the pain of the shattered families. We must pause our crazy non-stop get-it-done-instantly life to focus on the tragedy and see if there’s anything we can do, even if it’s something which we consider small. Ideas: Not talking during Kaddish, saying a nice word to a total stranger or spending more time with the kids and less time with the internet.
Second of all, we must hold people accountable. One cannot lead the nation of Israel without being responsible for what is going on. We must never vote for those people who could have – and should have – done more but chose to be “politically correct” (Oh, how I hate that expression!!) We need to let our elected officials know that we are not on auto-pilot and will control our own destiny. We demand a bright future and will find new leaders who will act and not just speak. The power we have in our hands to vote is very special and we must use it wisely to make real changes. Please don’t vote a certain way because “that’s what we do in our family”. Vote for people with courage, strong Jewish values and spines of steel. I will let you in on a secret; Knowing that very soon, we will change the leadership in Israel is the #1 thing that keeps me sane. With Hashem’s help, the current weak, apologetic and shameful leadership will soon change in Israel to people like Moshe Feiglin – and others like him – who will invigorate the country with pride, strength and Jewish identity. More on that in future articles…
Finally, there’s a third thing we must do. We must – somehow – focus on the good that is coming out of Israel and not just the bad. The positive energy, the hope, the optimism and the stories of some incredible people who are achieving greatness in the face of danger. This is something I can help you with and until Purim – the pinnacle of “Turning things upside down” – you have my word, that I will write some of the most positive, high energy, unbelievable things happening in Israel today that will blow your mind!
Please remember that my suggestion #3 comes only after the first 2. Focusing only on the good is like turning a blind eye and being in a state of national denial. We must first become sensitive to what is happening and not numb. We must feel the pain and identify with our brothers/sisters suffering. Then, we must make those in charge pay by sending them all to early retirement, far, far away from places like the Knesset and the IDF. Only then can we celebrate the hope that Hashem has in store for our people. Stay tuned!