Monday, May 3, 2004


May 3, 2004

Today is one of those days – one of those days when you don’t know what to say. On the one hand, you breathe a great sigh of relief. Thank G-d, the hard work paid off and the referendum failed. Of course, concurrently you ask yourself why there was a referendum in the first place. Since when is Eretz Yisrael for sale? How is it possible that an Israeli, a Jew, especially someone with a long track record, most specifically, Ariel Sharon, conjure up such a nightmare – giving parts of Eretz Yisrael to our enemies, whose sole desire is to destroy us!? Certainly it doesn’t make any sense.

With that, you still offer a prayer of thanksgiving. Thank G-d for miracles.

To be honest, as soon as Limor and Bibi decided to go with Sharon, I was despondent. I told my friends and colleagues, “it’s not worth the struggle – the referendum is lost – don’t waste any time on it - now we have to start preparing for ‘the day after.’” Boy was I wrong.  This is as good a time as possible to repeat the age-old mantra: Never Give Up!

But on the other hand, it was difficult to smile, or show any expression of joy. The haunting pictures of Tali Hatual and her four girls are paralyzing. Such a beautiful family, such beautiful people. In truth, six, not five people were killed. Tali were in the beginning of her ninth month. Her husband David was quoted as saying, “We knew it a boy. We were so happy.”

According to IDF sources, after killing Tali with the first burst of gunfire, the terrorists approached the car and systematically murdered the four girls, one by one, shooting each one in the head. To define such behavior as beastly is an insult to beasts. There are no words to describe the deliberate viciousness creatures posing as human beings.

And what about the husband, the father? Can you imagine being at work, hearing of a terror attack, and not being able to reach your loved ones, who might well have been in the vicinity of the assault? That’s what happened to David Hatual. According to witnesses at the scene, Tali’s cell phone didn’t stop ringing – her husband was calling her. No one dared answer.

David, a teacher and school principal, sped from Ashkelon towards his Gush Katif home, only to be stopped on the way by his father-in-law, who broke the tragic, terrible news to him. Not only a pregnant wife, but his four daughters, his four children, his entire family. Inconceivable. Not even in the worst of your worst bad dreams. But it happened.

Responsibility: Where does it start and where does it end?  Some of the names are all too familiar – they need not even be repeated. Leadership is bound by the motto, ‘the buck stops here.’ Others are also not lacking in accountability. For example, this morning General Moshe ‘Bugi’ Ya’alon, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces, pointed a finger at another guilty party. An Arutz 7 report states: ‘He places the blame on the Supreme Court. He said that lining the Kisufim Route are "houses that, for security reasons, we wanted to remove, and pay the occupants compensation. But the legal system did not allow us to do this." The homes served as camouflage for the terrorists and their actions.’ In other words, had those homes been destroyed, it is quite likely that none of us would ever had heard of the Hatual family. The Hatuals and others.

But responsibility for close to 1,000 deaths and over 6,000 casualties cannot be shouldered by any particular person.

The problem is conceptual. It demands an unyielding grasp of abstracts, such as faith, such as the association between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael.

Let’s face it. Without faith it is almost impossible to live here. And I’m not talking about Hebron. I’m referring to the entire State of Israel. I find myself repeatedly enlightening journalist of the Divine element of Israel’s existence. Clearly, nothing about the past 56 years – or even the past 100 years, is linked to logic or rationality. If G-d didn’t want us here, we simply wouldn’t be here.

That does not mean that we sit back and wait for a celestial hand to appear from the heavens. Many hundreds and thousands of people worked very hard over the past few weeks, bringing about the positive results of yesterday’s vote.

As far as the land of Israel is concerned, the first sentence of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen’s quintessential work “Orot” says it all: the land of Israel is not an intermediary, a superficial land entity for Jews to take refuge. Rather, it is an indispensable element of the existence of Judaism, together with Torah and Am Yisrael, the Jewish people.

Of course, if Eretz Yisrael is only earth and rocks, then who cares if we relent and give some away. But should Eretz Yisrael be an actual part of our collective neshama, our collective soul, how could we even entertain such thoughts? And that’s exactly what it is.

These are the elements that Israel’s leadership is lacking. Why else would Ariel Sharon do an about-face? Why would Rabin initiate Oslo?  Both, for the same reason. They have no faith, no faith in G-d, no faith in the determination and ability of Am Yisrael, and no faith in the sacredness of Eretz Yisrael. Deficiency of faith leads straight to despair, which in turn, leads to bizarre decision-making, (see Disengagement).

Yet a question remains: given the two sides of the coin, as presented above, which takes precedence: the sorrow or the celebration? This morning, Rav Dov Lior, Chief Rabbi of Hebron-Kiryat Arba ruled that this morning’s prayers be appended. He stated that, due to yesterday’s miracle, a special prayer be added. On Jewish festivals, or following a miraculous event, deserving of exceptional gratitude, a prayer of Thanksgiving is included during morning services. This morning, at Rav Lior’s yeshiva Torah institution, worshipers recited the Hallel, verses of praise extracted from Psalms.

Yesterday we cried while breathing a sigh of relief. Today, we paid tribute to the glory of G-d. And now, we must return to work, elucidating why Hallel was chanted after the Jewish people voted for Eretz Yisrael.

With blessings from Hebron.

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