October 22, 2019

On the Same Night…

The Jewish tradition calls the Holiday of Sukkot “Z’man Simchateinu” (the Time of Our Happiness).  Here in Israel, the atmosphere of Sukkot floods the streets.  Lulavs, Etrogs and Sukkahs are sold on the streets.  Most people take time off of work or go on vacation during the holiday.  But Sukkot is quickly slipping by, which only leaves Simchat Torah as the last hoorah before a month without festivities at all.

Unfortunately, for my family Sukkot has not been so festive.  My wife got sick the first day of the Holiday and we spent it in the Urgent Care Facility. After little/terrible treatment, we spent last night in the emergency room at Hadassah Hospital where she received first class care and thank goodness is feeling much better this morning.

On the way to the hospital, the cab driver had the radio on.  We listened to the story about Tomer Hazan, the IDF Soldier who was kidnapped and killed by a Palestinian who sought justice for his brother’s incarceration after his terrorist brother had been involved in a suicide attack cell.  After knowing one another from working together, the Palestinian lured Hazan to the West Bank.  There he murdered Hazan and stuffed the body in a well where he planned to barter Hazan back to the State of Israel, of course without informing the government that he had already killed Hazan.  (Read the story at JPost.com at: http://www.jpost.com/National-News/Palestinian-murders-IDF-soldier-in-West-Bank-326690).  I became filled with rage.  Living in Israel, I realize that every IDF soldier is a member of my extended family.  And while being here, the nature of such a tragedy feels personal.  Tomer Hazan was an actual person, a 20-year-old Jewish young-adult, with loving Jewish parents and a bright Jewish future.  He is not just an IDF uniform.

Then, my wife and I arrived to Hadassah Hospital (totally deserving of any charitable donations you are considering) and checked into the ER.  She was hunched over with stomach pain.  Then, the specialist came out to meet with us and sure enough the Gastrointerologist was an Arab.  He was a gentleman and seemed brilliant and took great care of the most important person in my life.  “From the bottom on my heart, thank you,” I told him as we both walked out, upright.  He smiled as if it was nothing – just a day’s work.  How do we reconcile the complicated nature of the Palestinian Issue when it has so many dimensions?

In the past month, I have had Arabs in the Old City tell me that the Jews are only temporary guests on their land.  I have had an Arab Taxi Driver tell me that even if there was a Palestinian State he wouldn’t want to leave the State of Israel – He was desperately trying to get his children Israeli citizenship.  I have met Arab doctors worthy of my admiration and respect.  And everyday I read about the most inhumane actions perpetrated by Palestinians.

Perhaps, Israel is meant to struggle with these issues.  After all, the name Israel refers to struggle itself – struggle with G-d.  However, presumably all struggles end with leadership.  My father, a great Rebbe of mine, often asks, “Have we run out of leaders?”

This week we are caught between the last Parsha of the Torah discussing the death of Moses and the first Parsha about Creation.  “Another Prophet like Moses will not arise in Israel,“ the Torah tells us after Moses’ death in Deuteronomy 34:10.  But Moses never entered the Land of Israel.  And perhaps that’s the message.  The Torah is saying that we should never need another leader to help us navigate the desert wilderness outside the Land of Israel.

The Bible never says that another Prophet like Joshua will not arise in Israel. Joshua navigated the land and knew its complicated nature. Joshua encountered other cultures in the land and still made sure the Land of Israel was and would always be the rightful Jewish inheritance. Perhaps the leader we should be searching out should be like Joshua

Leaders are not found, they are raised.  And the Jewish People need to rely on our greatest natural resource – our children.  Let’s educate them about Israel and all of its many dimensions.  Let’s teach them our long and winding narrative.  Let’s raise them to become thoughtful leaders.  Perhaps, we will never raise another Moses, but we can raise another Joshua.  We can only hope and pray.