We Are Not the Enemy

Today, I am repentant. On the bus I will stand in respect every time a tattooed, pierced, pony-tailed soldier gets on and I will offer my seat to them. And in my prayers, I will vicariously enact my putting myself and my children through the Binding of Isaac. I will, before reciting the Shema prayer, vicariously die a thousand deaths, before declaring in my loudest voice that my love for th

Prof. Shmuel Neumann,

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I am a child of survivors. For the last three generations, members of my family were brutally tortured and killed.

This evacuation of ?outposts? in Judea and Samaria resurrected the recurrent nightmare I had as a child:

In the middle of the night, they were banging on the door. ?They?, who? Who knows? We didn't answer it, because we were too frightened. I was literally paralyzed in fear (sometimes I would wake up in the middle of this nightmare and could not move or even cry - my throat was so constricted). They kicked in the door. I remember the high leather boots, the spotless starched uniform, and the mean look on their faces as they took away my parents and siblings, leaving me there alone.

We are not the enemy. We are loyal citizens. We dress informally like the typical Israeli. We serve in the army and even obey all traffic laws. We celebrate Israeli Independence Day and praise the Almighty for the privilege of being here. On Shabbat, we bless the government, soldiers and the leaders. We deserve more than being pulled out of our homes in the middle of the night. We deserve some sort of due process, with notice and a right of appeal. At the very least, they should come in broad daylight, so that we can get our children out of harm?s way.

Israel, under pressure of the United States, may have the legal right to remove citizens from their homes by the doctrine of eminent domain, but it is the way they are doing it that is inexcusable. Of course, Israelis are not Nazis. But they should realize that some of the people that they are evicting are survivors and their children, and care should be taken not to doubly traumatize them.

Why is there such delight on the secular Left when reporting this eviction?

If I didn't hear it with my own ears, I wouldn't have believed it. On Channel 2, a national talk radio station, the narrators discussed the imminent evacuation and were indignant that this time, rabbis better not object or they will find themselves in jail for insurrection. They declared that ?the rabbis? have to understand that this is a country of law and they have to obey the law. If the government decides to give a part of Israel to non-Jews, it is their prerogative; Israel was created by men and can be revoked by men. Rabbis who have the delusion that it was G-d that gave it to them may have a theological problem, but they are mistaken and will be prosecuted mercilessly if they voice any opposition to this.

So the issue is not really the outposts.

The issue is whether Israel exists because of the miraculous return of the remnant of a people, after two thousand years of longing, to finally actualize Biblical prophesies, or because of the parlor games of some rich, anti-religious, assimilated Jews.

Why does the Almighty permit this outrage?

When Rav Huna's wine turned to vinegar, his friends asked him to examine his deeds to see why he warranted his misfortune. I personally believe that we must be deserving of punishment because we forgot how to love. We are despised by all nations because we don't love each other. While giving lip service and going through the motions, most of us no longer feel deep passionate love for the Torah, the Jews, and the Land. Love is reflected in your sacrificing for them, without looking for what you get out of it.

I gave my wife an expensive pearl necklace once and remember how I was holding my breath in trepidation until I saw how delighted she was. It's anthropomorphic, but I imagine how the Almighty must ?feel? after giving us His prized possessions, and we act resentful, as though they over-encumbered us. Jews don't want to act too Jewish. Torah observance is seen as a burden and many of us that observe feel resentment over it obtrusively dominating our lives. And the Land is a hostile environment peopled by nasty to brutal populations, some Jews included. Since the Roadmap was presented, the interest in starting new settlements has died.

Today, I am repentant. On the bus I will stand in respect every time a tattooed, pierced, pony-tailed soldier gets on and I will offer my seat to them. And in my prayers, I will vicariously enact my putting myself and my children through the Binding of Isaac. I will, before reciting the Shema prayer, vicariously die a thousand deaths, before declaring in my loudest voice that my love for the Almighty is greater than my love of life itself. And I will go out today and tenderly and lovingly plant a fruit tree.

On a communal level, we must strive to overcome our tendency to be hypercritical. Communities of Yesha remain small because of their over-selectivity. They have a Vaad Klita, which is very much like a co-op board. Because the settlements were cohesive, anyone that wasn't a clone of everyone else was not admitted. Slightly more observant or slightly less observant was intolerable. Slightly more professional or educated or slightly less was unacceptable. This neurotic attempt at self-validation was their downfall.

As a community, we need to learn what is inscribed at the grave of Rabbi Elimelech and which became popularized as the song ?Aderaba?:

?Conversely, place in our hearts, that we all should only be able to see the positive qualities in our friends and not their faults.?

So that it will be patently obvious to all that - We are not the enemy.
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Shmuel Neumann, Ph.D., is actively involved in creating communities for English-speaking olim, and in an emigration program for Palestinians. He currently resides in the Shomron.




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