Approaching Rosh Hashanah, #Thoughts4Elul 5774

Shana Tova to all my friends. All the best for 5775….Richard

September 4, 2014

Averting the Decree, #Thoughts4Elul 5774

This year we approach the New Year with more fear and trembling than for a very long time. This summer, in Gaza, we saw Israel, at double risk of Hamas missiles and tunnels, forced into some of the most difficult choices a nation has ever had to make. How do you fight a war against terror when the terrorists take a whole people hostage and hide bombs and rocket launchers in schools, hospitals and mosques?

As Amos Oz asked, what would you do if your neighbour across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery? The Torah says that when Jacob was about to meet Esau, after a separation of 22 years, he was ‘very afraid and distressed.’ Says Rashi: ‘very afraid’ that he might be killed. ‘distressed’ that he might have to kill. The commentators on Rashi ask the obvious question. You are allowed to kill in self defence. So why was Jacob distressed that he might have to kill a man who was about to kill him. The short answer is that if life matters to you, you are distressed even if you are morally justified. This summer, Israelis and Israel had to defend itself but it did so with no joy, only distress.

……Yes, there have been tough times in recent months. But consider this. In almost 4,000 years of Jewish history never before have we had simultaneously independence and sovereignty in the land of Israel, freedom and equality in most countries outside. To paraphrase an old Hasidic saying: If things are so bad, how come they’re so good? This year, let us first thank God for all the good in Jewish life, then let us ask Him for the strength to change the rest.


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