Is It All for Naught?

Perhaps miraculously, we got word of a three-week delay in Sharon's Disengagement Plan. Maybe the "bulldozer" is having engine problems, second thoughts, or tactical difficulties. Whatever the reason, we got a welcome reprieve just in time for the holiday.

Ellen W. Horowitz

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According to our sages, after hearing Pharaoh's decree that all male newborns be thrown into the Nile, Amram - the leader of the Israelite community - divorced his wife in order to set an example and prevent suffering and infanticide. Other commentaries suggest that Amram separated from Yocheved in a state of utter despair, declaring, "It is all for naught!" At the time, Amram was unaware that he had already planted the seed of redemption (Yocheved was three months pregnant with Moshe).

For a Jew, perhaps nothing is more agonizing than feeling as if one's efforts have been wasted; and yet, it is often our greatest moments of anguish and despair that allow for the possibility of deliverance.

According to some midrashim, Amram's voluntary and exemplary act of separation from his wife is seen as a great action in G-d's eyes (see Aviva Zornberg's Reflections on Exodus). This is strange and seems to run contrary to family-oriented Jewish tradition. Many of us are familiar with, and more comfortable with, the commentaries that give credit to Miriam's greatness in admonishing her father and reconciling her parents (and consequently the rest of the Israelite couples).

But it seems that Amram's greatness lies in his authenticity and righteousness, as authentic cries, groans and pain can be heard and felt in the heavenly realms. Our remarkable ability to turn inward in times of severe crisis - in search of our true selves - while simultaneously reaching outward to G-d is quite possibly the greatest of all human achievements. It's no easy task, and yet it doesn't require any of the qualities we mortals usually attribute to exceptional accomplishment. In fact, great intellect, talent, and self-confidence are actually a hindrance to effective introspection; whereas, a shattered ego can release an imprisoned soul. This is when true prayer becomes possible. And, ironically, it's this occasional exchange of our external selves and physical labors with an intense and existential grappling and questioning of the purpose and direction of our efforts that can activate a redemptive response from On High. This type of exertion can transcend logic and appears to be almost other-worldly, and that may be why it seems to elicit an appreciative response from the heavenly realms.

We entered the month of Nissan having expended tremendous energy towards trying to avert Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decrees concerning the Gaza Strip. Our benign efforts and use of acceptable and lawful channels seemed spent. And, in the best of Jewish tradition, we did take a moment to separate from the mundane in order to pause and reflect. I think I speak for many of us when I say that garnering the resources and stamina necessary to focus on Pesach preparations was particularly tedious and draining this year. And perhaps a few of us were asking, "Is it all for naught?"

And then, perhaps miraculously, we got word of a three-week delay in Sharon's Disengagement Plan. Maybe the "bulldozer" is having engine problems, second thoughts, or tactical difficulties. Whatever the reason, we got a welcome reprieve just in time for the holiday. And it seems that a lot of us are enjoying an exceptionally joyful Pesach. Although we rarely see immediate results, I'm quite sure that our sincere efforts and expressions on all fronts and in all realms throughout the years have been well worth it.

Take a moment to look back and see what we've done and how we've struggled to stop the unstoppable and "irreversible" process The current battle to secure and preserve the Jewish communities in Gaza and the Shomron is part of the continuing war against everything Oslo wrought. I believe that our determination, efforts, and exceptional stamina and spirit have made an impact; and one day, we may merit seeing the miraculous fruits of our labors.

The following is a special tribute, which outlines some of those efforts and is to be included in a book that I've written. Let us not dismiss any of the below labors as having been wasted:

The War against Oslo is in its eleventh year. It has been fought by a small, but highly mobilized and motivated army - an army without a military budget, uniforms or weapons of war. Sometimes the battle has been visible and thunderous, but more often than not, it has taken the form of an unpretentious, constant flurry of activity.

This book is dedicated to those who adjusted their daily routines and protested, prayed, cried, mourned, wrote, spoke, organized, phoned, emailed, faxed, fasted, fed activists with sandwiches, kept lists of obituaries and lists of the injured, held signs on street corners, held hands in hospitals, attended funerals, supported the fallen, picked-up body parts, listened to and counseled the bereaved, monitored, documented and responded to the hourly media atrocities, and kept watch at night or maintained a constant vigil.

This book is also dedicated to the memory of those in uniform who fell in the defense of their nation, to those civilians who were butchered while going about their daily tasks in
Eretz Yisrael, to those who fell in their devotion to the building of YESHA (Judea Samaria and Gaza) and to those whose lives are committed to keeping YESHA eternally ours as part of 'Eretz Yisrael Hakedosha'.

"For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem, I will not rest."
(Isaiah 62:1)