Sunday, October 28

Yitzhak Rabin's yahrzeit

(The doctor who saved X's life is not Shomer Shabbat.   Worse than that, this same doctor lobbied the UJA to cut funding to a religious school to give money to a multi-faith concert, being preformed on Shabbat.  X's children refused to thank the doctor for the surgery, they don't even want to thank Gd for saving their father's life.  How could He use such a terrible person as His messenger???)

The Canadian government that granted my mother and her parents refuge from Germany in 5708 (early '48), is the same government that denied Jews refuge during the years of the Holocaust.  Yet my mother and her parents are forever grateful that they had where to begin their lives.  They are grateful to Hashem for allowing them safe refuge, for not being sent back to Poland or Hungary (where some Holocaust survivors were killed by their old neighbours).  And they are careful to show their gratitude to their host country by respecting the symbols and laws of the land.

Rabin wasn't Evil Incarnate.
He did a lot things that I personally am unhappy about.  I mean really, really unhappy about.   Really, really , really unhappy....
You get my drift.
But, I think that we will do much better, as siblings and as a nation, if we are able to occasionally recognize and appreciate the mesirut nefesh of people with whom we do not agree.  This doesn't mean that I wouldn't  have been happy to try him for war crimes (aka Oslo), presumably find him guilty and make him do avodot sherut to help the families he destroyed - for the rest of his life.   But even in his punishment, we would have to show some respect for a person who did not say, "life is comfortable here in the cafes of Tel Aviv," as did a percentage of Jews in Eretz Yisrael way back 70+ years ago.  He joined the Hagana, and risked his life helping other Jews escape the Atlit prison.  He risked his life fighting with the British against the Vichy forces in Lebanon.  And he risked his life to save thousands of Jewish lives, in many battles during the Israeli war of Independence (at the age of 26!) , reclaiming neighbourhoods of Yerushalaim and Ramat Rahel , and ending the Arab Siege Around Yerushalaim.

Could I have done everything Rabin did?  Pass up a full scholarship to Berkeley to stay here and fight with pistols against 11 fully-armed Arab nations?  Sure!!  Well, probably.   Maybe?  
Could I have withstood all the pressure before, during and after Oslo?  I'd love to think so, but I wasn't there.
Would I still like to see all the Oslo folk behind bars?   Yes.  But, again, that doesn't take away from the good that any of them did ever do.

And here are some of the interesting things some of them have done:

Shimon Peres overcame American pressure on France in the 50s, and convinced the French government of the early '50's to sell weapons  planes and tanks to Israel.   Of course, he had to get over the antisemitism of some French cabinet ministers too.  Not easy. 
And Mr Peres was among the developers of our nuclear facility in the Negev.  Each and every one of us, with all the preparations we are making for a possible war with Iran, should appreciate the significance of Peres' contribution to our safety in this particular area.

Yossi Beilin.  Prepare yourself for a surprise.  We tend to think of Beilin as a self-hating Jew, or at the very least, as someone detemined to erase Jewish identity in order to appease the goyim.
But the truth is, that even as Beilin was encouraging the government to rethink the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jews and especially the financial dependence of Israel on American Jewish philanthropists, Beilin himself initiated the idea that Every Jewish Youth Must Visit Israel.  From this idea came BIRTHRIGHT (Taglit) - which has brought many "unaffiliated" Jews back to our common heritage, given them Jewish identity and strengthened their connection to Our Land and Our Heritage.  In polls, Youth who participated in a Birthright tour expressed 51% more commitment to marrying a Jew.   That is no small feat, when intermarriage takes away more than half our children everywhere outside Israel.

All in all, it would be really easy if life were as described in certain newspapers, magazines and books - "they" (leftist, nonreligious....) are "all bad" , and "we" are the good, committed-and-therefore-persecuted Jews.   But the reality is so much more complex than that.   
This doesn't mean that we let them off the hook for what they did wrong, but it DOES mean that we have to respect the good they did.
And we can use this auspicious date to do so.
11th Heshvan we remember that Rahel prayed for her children,  and Hashem promised that we will return.  And here we are.
12th Heshvan we recognize that The Return is a complex reunion between millions of Jews, from thousands of years of separation, with hundreds of cultural , religious and personal differences.
Maybe on the 13th of Heshvan, we can say, "Hashem, we are up for the challenge.  We can reunite with respect.  We have patience for the process.  We want to do our part to bridge the gaps."

Thank You for letting little-old-me be part of this.

(And thank you to my wonderful Bechor who shared these historical highlights with me.)

1 comment:

  1. I don't think there's any evidence at all that Moses Mendelssohn was a self-hating Jew.