17 Sivan, 5778
Have you followed the news in Israel lately? Neighbors and I have been dodging Molotov kites loaded with incendiary devices that have been setting Israeli's agricultural fields afire, machine gun fire, missiles, hand-to-hand combat and/or stabbings as we try to go about our benign daily business. It hasn't been easy in the face of all that hatred.
Did you hear about the wedding disrupted by sirens that warned party goers and everyone in the vicinity to reach a bomb shelter in less than a minute, or of the effort to breach Israel's naval blockade which protects Jewish lives?
The commotion was all because of the efforts to separate Jews from the land that GOD gave to us, and to annihilate us. Again.
Jewish history is full of the phenomena. Mainstream media tends to overlook that, plus the fact that Jews have been routed from our homeland many times.
All we want to do is to live according to Jewish law, to mind our business, and to help the world at large.
People sometimes wonder how Jews survive the onslaught of hatred. The answer, of course, is in our sense of purpose.
GOD commanded to be a nation like no other, to serve as a light, a shining example of moral behavior and choices based on GOD's agenda for the world: Kindness, decency, and sharing. Our two holy temples, which radiated heavenly blessings upon the wider world, were destroyed by foreigners who resented the "intrusion" of holiness, i.e., restraint from vicious personal agendas, into their lives.
Jews have remained focused on the goal of being good, moral people according to GOD's rules, even as we hardly know how to overcome the visceral hatred for our existence and mandate.
Last week, I joined friends for a trip to the holy city of Jerusalem, a healing experience for the soul and a treat for the body. We enjoyed the thrilling view of the restored Hurva synagogue
as we headed to the Plugat HaKotel museum.
We reached our destination, and experienced a movie about a bit of Jewish history that none of us had known: The heroism of a specific Betar Youth member who defied the Jew-hating enforcers of the British Mandate. A young man with little experience in life let alone warfare, he was one of the people who escorted Jews to the Western/Wailing Wall for time with the Creator when protecting lives from muslim murderers was illegal.
The young man accepted a new assignment, to blow shofar at the Kotel (Western/Wailing Wall) following the end of Yom Kipur services. The act of sounding the instrument of Jewish spiritual freedom was a defiance of British Mandate law, and the fulfillment of Jewish law which requires the use of a shofar at such a time. It's purpose is to make a Jew remember, and thrill, to the sense of purpose bestowed upon us by Heaven. The three distinct sounds made upon a shofar (made during Rosh HaShana/Jewish new year and Yom Kipur/Day of Atonement) remind us of the pain, weeping and suffering we've experienced during Jewish history, and the exultant cries of joy when we know that we've lived up to our heavenly mandate to be holy.
Here's a poster from the Plugat HaKotel museum, showing the faces of heroes who sounded the shofar of Jewish physical and spiritual freedom when that was an illegal act in our homeland.
I won't ruin the movie for you by revealing how it ends, but I will let you know that I left the theater unable to speak.
I was crying at the joy of overcoming capricious hatred, the courage that an individual can muster up in one defining moment, the necessity to do so, and the overall tug of life.
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