Monday, June 8, 2009

A Rude Awakening

I always considered myself very open-minded and a person who accepted everyone, regardless of race, colour or religion. I grew up in a small town with very few Jewish families so most of my friends were not Jewish. Because of this, when we made aliyah in the summer of 1992, I couldn’t imagine being anything but open to peace with our Arab neighbours.

Israel signed the Declaration of Principles with the PLO on September 13, 1993. No one with any understanding of the political situation would have given this any credence, but the media played it up in grand style. Still naive, I too had hopes that it may prove successful. But the ink had barely dried on the paper when the terrorist attacks intensified. Random shootings, knifings and suicide bus bombings became a common occurrence.

Then, a little over a year later an incident occurred which bore deep into my heart and soul. A 19 year old soldier, Nachshon Wachsman z’l, was kidnapped and held hostage by Hamas terrorists. After nearly a week, an ultimatum was given with a 24 hour deadline of Friday, October 13th. Uniting together with thousands of others from around the world, we prayed for his safe release. On Friday night, as per a request from Nachshon’s mother, Esther, we lit a candle for him. In his merit, many Shabbat candles were lit that may not have been otherwise. I fell asleep that Shabbat night with Nachshon on my mind and I dreamed that I saw him floating above the Old City of Jerusalem. It was only when I awoke and heard the sad news did I realize what my dream meant. Even with no radio or TV on Shabbat, this report somehow made its way to us all…. Nachshon Mordechai Wachsman (as well as another Israeli soldier) had been murdered by his captors during a failed rescue attempt.

This was the beginning of my realization that peace with the enemy was out of reach. Less than a week later, October 19, 1994, a suicide bus bombing in Tel Aviv claimed the lives of 22 precious souls and injured 75 others. From the signing of the ‘agreement’ on September 13th 1993 until September 2000, 269 civilians and soldiers were murdered in terrorist attacks in Israel. The existence of such monsters was indeed a rude awakening for me. What kind of human beings could be so hateful and heartless? These events could no longer be viewed as arbitrary. Something of this magnitude can only be orchestrated by a power greater than mankind itself.

The Jewish people merit to dwell in the land because of their Covenant with G-d. One imperative obligation which binds us to this Covenant is ‘You Shall Keep the Sabbath’. If we fail on our end of the agreement, how can we expect HaShem to sit idly by? These wake-up calls are but a ‘love tap’ from a Father who loves us. HaShem is trying to shake us up yet so many do not hear the message. We are all one people, yet we are all guilty of so many sins against our own; this one judging that one and that one judging the other. The only solution is to be united and live our lives according to G-d’s word, and in so doing, He will have reason to protect us and save us.

May we all merit HaShem’s loving mercy…..

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