As he has entered into the covenant….

6 Nov

Life in Israel is not only interesting, it is also most dramatic.

With 365 days in a year, what is the probability that the brit milah of the newborn son of the murderer of a former Prime Minister would come out on the very same day that the nation was marking 12 years since that assassination?  It’s unbelievable – and created quite an emotional couple of days here in Israel 

The big question here was: should the new father be allowed to attend the brit milah of his newborn son?

Of course, as so many other things here in Israel, the issue spun itself into a right wing vs. left wing explosion, with fingers being pointed in both directions.  

The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that Yigal Amir had the right to attend his son’s brit – in prison. And so he did, this past Sunday. There was a lot of anger going around that day – rekindled hatred for what Amir had done, and new-found anger with the justice system. 

How could they privilege this assassin with the pleasure of being at his son’s brit?

At the Saturday night rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, marking the secular date of the assassination (the Hebrew date was marked nationally last week), Yuval Rabin, son of the murdered Prime Minister, accused the legal system of being helpless, allowing the brit of the murderer’s son to be held on November 4, the day of the murder. “The man who on that night, 12 years ago, stood at the foot of this square and with self-control took the role of the judge and the accuser. The man who abused the laws of democracy continues to mock them to this day,” Yuval Rabin said. Even Prime Minister Olmert indicated that he felt he had no choice but to identify with the moving remarks made by the son Yuval.  

I understand the pain and anger.  But I can’t help but offer an additional perspective. 

Please don’t misunderstand what I am about to say. I have no sympathy for the murderer Yigal Amir, and believe that he absolutely should spend the rest of his life behind bars. Period. 

However, from the perspective of Jewish law, a father attending his son’s brit is the fulfillment of an obligation – not only a joyous occasion.  It would seem somewhat un-Jewish to prevent any Jew from performing a mitzvah incumbent upon him, even a Jew who has shed blood.

The whole problem here started when the Supreme Court permitted him to marry in the first place.  Once married, it seemed inhuman to prevent him from having a conjugal visit.  That led to conception and then birth. 

How can we justify keeping Amir away from his son’s brit if we allowed him to marry and father the child already?  What should be allowed, what not?  Will it be decided that brit is one thing, but first birthday is out of the question? 

It seems that the decision about these things was already made a while ago – life in prison is not synonymous with a living-death.

Also, somewhere along the line, Israeli society has gotten off onto the wrong track in addressing this heinous crime – we need to be focusing on the murder – not the murderer.  How to prevent murder, not how to punish the murderer. 

Such relentless discussions are just not becoming of the Jewish people.

In addition, we must remember to consider one other important point: where there is birth, where there is new life, and new life can bring with it new hope.   

As much as I feel sorry for newborn Inon Elya Shalom Amir, knowing what he is going to endure as he grows up the son of an assassin, I cannot help but look at him as a human being and a Jew, brought into this world by no choice of his own, deserving of our concern, respect, and even love.  He should not be punished for what his father did, and it is our responsibility to differentiate between Amir the murder, and Amir, the son. 

Jewish history is full of father-son surprises; some tragic, some inspiring.  

Take for example the story of the king of Judah, Yoshiahu (Josiah).  His grand-father, Manasseh, and his father, Amon, were both responsible for introducing and supporting idolatry and ruling amidst the highest levels of corruption and depravity during their consecutive reigns, during the 7thcentury BCE.  

After Amon was assassinated by his own servants, who conspired against him, the people crowned Amon’s young son,Yoshiahu, as the new king of Judah. Imagine, they chose the son of that corrupt idolater to be their king, knowing full well what his father had stood for! 

Yoshiahu, son and grandson of some of two of the most depraved Kings of Judah, went on to become one of Israel’s most beloved rulers of all time: 

And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him. (II Kings 23:25) 

New life brings new hope.   

As he has entered into the covenant, so may he enter into a life of Torah, chuppah, and acts of loving-kindness. Amen.      

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One Response to “As he has entered into the covenant….”

  1. Yanki Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    fully support this point of view!

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