Wednesday, July 17, 2013

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Lets Avoid Shooting Ourselves in the Foot

An Option Piece by Rabbi Yehuda Meshi Zahav, the founder of Zaka

th(IsraelHaYom) Let us learn from the past.

On Tisha B'Av (the Jewish fast day of the 9th of Av, which was yesterday this year), the people of Israel weep and contemplate the prejudice and unjustified hatred that led to the destruction of Second Temple 1,943 years ago, but the people of those times did not think of themselves as engaging in this type of behavior. Even then, small groups of extremist Jews fought against other groups of extremists, and each side was certain it was fighting for a sacred and just cause. Today we know that all the infighting never paid off, to put it mildly, and that in the end it was unbridled prejudice that led to the destruction of the Temple.

From then until today: My friends and brothers, "soldiers for the cause," heroes of the cinder blocks, the paint and the garbage dumpsters, who proved their valor at the expense of that 20-year-old soldier who strolled through their neighborhood and unleashed their rage and boredom on him. They probably think that a place of honor is reserved for them in the pantheon of those who have sanctified the name of God throughout the years.

But it is not this extremist minority whose behavior borders on insanity that we should be complaining about, rather about ourselves and our leaders. It is amazing to see the ease with which we are accepting of this out of control "hardakim" (a play on words in Hebrew meaning "haredi cockroaches") campaign. This is a campaign that legitimizes demeaning, humiliating and even beating the sons of our neighbors, whose only crime is wearing the Israel Defense Forces uniform. We are not talking about unruly kids either; these are good kids with good souls, observers of the Torah who for one reason or another left the mainstream, did not manage well at yeshiva, and for the sake of making a living and their futures chose to serve in the army.

Not to mention the value of "gratitude": After all, these are not enemies and evil wishers who have come to fight us, God forbid. They are people who are prepared to defend us with their lives.

A short look at those behind the hardakim campaign really reveals everything. These are people who, with their bogus zealotry, have also attacked the greats of Israel. They dishonored them and slandered them with every unjust accusation, may God have mercy on these people. Indeed, there is also no community or political leader in the haredi community who has not felt their violence and vitriol first hand.

These are the same people who participated in Iranian conferences about Holocaust denial and warmly embraced the greatest enemy of the Jews of our times, the Islamic republic's outgoing president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And suddenly, because of the current political alignment -- to be against government's decisions and to fight them -- we willfully ignore their actions. We must not give them legitimacy; we must not treat this as acceptable. If we do not stop them now, they will spread and come back at us like a boomerang.

The greatest lesson we can learn from the destruction of the Temple is not to think for one moment that having a state of our own, our own entity, guarantees the continued existence of the Jewish people here in this land. This is not the case; history has already proven that if we are not unified, if we are devoid of comradeship, then the entire house crumbles from within. Even when each side thinks it is fighting for the highest of causes.

History is also our warning sign. Today, too, 2,000 years removed, not even a compact and smart army, not even the most advanced technology, will help us. If we cannot find the common road between us, the house will collapse.

The main lesson from Tisha B'Av is us; our ability to live with one another, to face our differences and meet on common ground. The Jews are good at remembering. Our traditions remind us; reality divides us.

3 comments:

cr said...

i was expecting a shiur about the "Foot"

Neshama said...

The ones beating up on soldiers should be drafted immediately and given the routine to strengthen their bodies and exhaust their trouble-making minds.

Anonymous said...

If your satmar be satmar all avodah in Torah . If your rav kooke ,kahane, hill top youthe ,build the land . If your chabad spread yiddishkite. If your breslov combine all 3 avodas. No need for machlokat its the yetzer harah sinat chinam !

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