We were somewhere on the vast Ohio Turnpike, playing My Father Owns a Grocery Store, embarking on our family road trip and amusement park adventure, when the first text came. Ali quickly checked the news. Tears began streaming down her cheeks. I knew right away that the unthinkable had happened. “They found their bodies,” she cried.
How would we possibly take this family trip to the world’s largest amusement park and pretend to have fun? But we did. Our kids rode the roller coasters and Ali I rode the emotional roller coaster of 18 days of hope and prayer, followed by the tragic news.
Our people have suffered a terrible and tragic episode- so much pain and sadness. When you pray for another person, they penetrate you. They become yours. Naftali, Gilad and Eyal became our boys. Our boys were brutally murdered as they made their way home, after a long week of dedicated Torah study, to taste their mother’s challahs, to hear their father’s words of Torah and to join their brothers and sisters in singing the Shabbos melodies.
The Light That Drives Us:
But the one thing that kept me going during those 18 days of pain and confusion was the feeling that I was just so proud of our people. I was so proud of how we reacted to the tragedy by sanctifying life, by creating light through our additional acts of love and kindness that we all did on behalf of our boys. The unity we achieved as a people through our collective prayers and tears, the closeness that we felt to G-d as we turned to Him and begged Him to return our boys, all made me so proud.
Mi K’amcha Yisroel, goy echad ba’aretz – who is like your people Israel, a unique nation on earth?
I was starting to ascend the roller coaster once again, filled with nachas and pride over our extraordinary people.
Then came the sudden and terrifying descent. News began circulating about the horrific, cold-blooded murder of the young Palestinian boy, Mohamed Abu Kdheir, by militant Jewish fanatics. Then a text came in from one of our students: “Are we as bad as them?”
I thought about it for a second, and replied emphatically: “NO!”
The Jewish Response:
Israel’s response to this atrocious murder has been unequivocal condemnation. Judaism repudiates the notion of revenge killings and Israel will do everything it can to guarantee that these vigilantes will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
Contrast this with the Palestinian public’s response to the abduction and murder of Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. In a practice all too familiar among Palestinians, mobs took to the streets to celebrate the kidnapping, expressing support for the kidnappers by dancing on cars and handing out sweets to children. These killings are not only tolerated in Arab society but are glorified and revered.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu noted, Palestinian terrorists are hailed as heroes with public squares named in their honor.
The mother of one of the kidnappers and murderers of the three boys said: “If he did the kidnapping I’m proud of him.”
Contrast this with Rachel Frankel, the mother of Naftali Frankel, who immediate condemned the killing of Abu Khdeir and sent condolences to his family.
She said in a public statement, “Even in the abyss of mourning for Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, it is difficult for me to describe how distressed we are by the outrage committed in Jerusalem – the shedding of innocent blood in defiance of all morality, of the Torah, of the foundation of the lives of our boys and of all of us in this country. Only the murderers of our sons, along with those who sent them and those who helped them and incited them to murder – and not innocent people – will be brought to justice: by the army, the police, and the judiciary; not by vigilantes.”
She emphasized that the legacy of the three slain teenagers is “one of love, of humanity, of national unity, and of integrity.”
We are not like them. Not even close. We couldn’t be more different. The actions of these militant Jews who murdered Abu Khdeir in a so-called revenge killing are a stain on the cloak of our people. No streets or public squares will be named after these vicious criminals.
We should be proud of who we are. I am. I am filled with nachas. We celebrate life and we respond to tragedy by bringing more light, holiness and love into the world.
Mi K’amcha Yisroel, goy echad ba’aretz – who is like your people Israel, a unique nation on earth?Tags: israel, Judaism, palestinians
Posted on: Thursday, July 10th, 2014
Author: Rabbi David
About: For more and more students in the Chicago area, Rabbi David is like a personal tour guide into the world of Jewish thought. He is passionate about elucidating timeless Jewish texts to the contemporary mind and leading each student on his or her own personal spiritual journey. His inspiring and insightful teaching style, coupled with his sense of humor and warm approach, has attracted hundreds of students since he began teaching on the North Shore 12 years ago. Rabbi David and Ali have five children, and currently reside in West Rogers Park in Chicago.