Entering Adar Covered in Blood

7 Mar

As I begin to write this blog entry, only about two hours have passed here in Israel since two arab terrorists from East Jerusalem – Israeli citizens – entered into Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav in the midst of Jerusalem, opening fire on the eighty young men who had gathered with singing and dancing to celebrate the onset of the month of Adar II, the month in which we will soon celebrate Purim. At the time of my writing, reports waver between 7-8 murdered, and several more in serious condition.

The Mishnah in Tractate Taanit instructs us that upon entering into the month of Adar, we are to increase joy and happiness.

We have entered Adar, and that does not seem to be the case; however, what is very much like Adar is that we are once again experiencing what it feels like to live in an upside down world.

Random kassam and grad missiles are be launched at Israeli cities…we have more than our share of miraculous misses – and yet, the word out on the streets of the world is that these missiles are understandable for they are in retaliation for Israel’s targeted killings of Hamas terrorists.

Of course, it has been forgotten that the Hamas terrorists are being targeted by Israel because the have already been involved in terrorist activities and they must be stopped before they plan or get involved in carrying out more terrorism.

In the spirit of the month of Adar, and the holiday of Purim, vna’hafoch hu – everything is upside down. Israel is in the midst of an ongoing defensive battle. Israel does not randomly aim at and kill civilians – that’s what Hamas and others do to us…when Israel does, unfortunately, kill civilians, it is because they are in proximity of terrorists. Period.

And another thing, when Israel targets terrorists and unintentionally kills civilians, we send our apologies, and we all feel remorseful for the human costs associated with self-defense. Hamas, Hizbollah, Islamic-Jihad and all the others, on the other hand, set their sites on random civilian targets – like a yeshiva in the heart of Jerusalem – slaughter and butcher with the intent of killing as many as possible, expect to die as martyrs, and then, celebrate in the streets, cleverly handing out candy to children as a means of indoctrinating them from a very young age that their highest aspiration should be to one day blow themselves while taking as much Jewish blood as possible along with them!

The members of Amnesty International are the ones who should seek amnesty for the confusion they have caused the free world whose goals are to make the world a better place, despite the hatred, violence, and disregard for the value of human life that is hiding around every dark corner of the fanatical arab world.Who on earth do these members of Amnesty International think they are? Who gave them the mandate to close their eyes to our story, to demand that we stop killing terrorists whose only goal in life is to live long enough see the State of Israel come to and end!

How do we cope with the kind of butchering that was carried out Thursday night in Jerusalem? After we, the appreciative and humane citizens of Israel, grieve at the loss of life and the high price we must pay for preserving our rights to live in our homeland and to build a country that is dedicated to making the world a better place, we continue to live on, to celebrate the opportunity of another day, of the ever-present hope that tomorrow will be better.

I am sorry if I have said nothing new, but experience has taught me that when faced with setbacks, we must always re-align ourselves with the mission, and remind ourselves that we are still fighting the War of Independence.

Despite it all, I give thanks to God who has blessed me and my family with the merit of living here in Israel. I know that most of my fellow citizens feel the same way.

I have chosen to include a poem that I wrote six years ago, at the height of a period when we were experiencing day-to-day terrorism here in Israel. Unfortunately, its message is still relevant.

Shabbat shalom

A soldier, every one

It now appears that

the war has begun,

A soldier, every one,

The battle is raging, and no where is safe,

A soldier, every one.

Who fights the battles, who’s on the front lines?

Our fathers and brothers and sons.

But no, not just they,

Every citizen here is

A soldier, every one.

A saba and savta at the Pesach seder,

A soldier, every one.

A nine month old in her mother’s arms,

A soldier, every one.

Teens eating pizza, or at the cafe,

Our children, our daughters and sons,

And so it will be ‘til the battle is won,

A soldier, every one.

“Chamushim alu Bnei Yisrael,”

A soldier, every one,

Every man, every woman,

Every daughter and son,

A soldier, every one.

And God was with them,

Every battle they fought,

Until the fighting was done.

“Vaya’aminu ba’Hashem uv’Moshe avdo.”

A soldier, every one.


And here we are,

It’s been thousands of years, yet

A soldier, every one.

Some armed with guns, most just with hope,

A soldier, every one.

Brave heroes go off to school every day,

A soldier, every one,

Their mothers and fathers bid farewell at the door,

A soldier, every one.

A cup of coffee, a trip to the grocer,

A soldier, every one,

The daily routine is the way we do battle,

A soldier, every one.

Synagogue prayers amidst

Rifles and pistols,

A soldier, every one.

We are no longer citizens,

As we live, we do battle,

A soldier, every one.

And so, we Israelis,

Our lives on the line,

A soldier, every one.

We do this for you,

and for all our descendants,

A soldier, every one.

Preserving our home,

Our Eretz Yisrael,

The war is far from won.

Together we pray,

May we be the last, to be

Soldiers, every one.

© Rabbi Morey Schwartz, Hashmonaim Israel. March 2002


5 Responses to “Entering Adar Covered in Blood”

  1. Jeff Engel Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 12:12 am #

    Rabbi Schwartz:
    It was great meeting you and learning from you with the wonderful Melton Purim curriculum, in Raleigh, NC last month.
    I read your blog, and the events in Jerusalem yesterday struck particularly close to home. My daughter, Sophie, is studying in Jerusalem now through the Hadassah’s Young Judaea Year Course program. We got the usual security alert that all chanachim were safely accounted for last night and that until furhter notice, they will be restricted to their new facility out near the Jerusalem Mall. We had the joy of visiting Sophie last December for 2 weeks (our 2nd visit to Israel) and spent much of our time in Jerusalem. All the merchants I spoke with (Jew and Arab) in the marketplaces remarked on the 4 years of peace and calm in the city, yet all realized it could change in a day. I hope that day has not come.
    Your comments in the blog are the usual rhetoric we speak here in the US on a regular basis. We realize the importance of supporting Israel, particularly in the court of public opinion. However I can no longer ignore the horrible asymetry that now exists between the Israeli and the Palestinian; asymetry in basic freedoms and social justice, and asymetry in response to violence. As an example of the latter, the recent Israeli Air Force attack in Gaza was, in my opinion, way out of proportion to the daily terrosist rockets being lobbed into Israel. We can argue all day on how past events explain (and justify, to some) these vast asymetries among neighboring peoples, but as long as they exist, they will continue to fuel terrorism. I can’t imagine, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, how difficult it is to live and how degrading it must be. Israel now needs the courage to end the cycle of violence and address the basic social inequities that exist. Another asymetric attack on the Palestinians will not work; indeed it has not worked. It will only beget more violence. Israel must stay at the negotiating table, refrain from violence, and accept Egypt’s overtures to help broker a sustainable peace.
    During my visits to Israel, I found the similarities between our cultures greater than our differences. Perhaps a naive viewpoint from an optimistic American tourist. But now I must question Zionism as a fundamental military doctrine. I must demand the end of asymetric military attacks against Palestinians, and I must demand social justice.
    Shabbat Shalom

  2. Debbie Simckes Sunday, March 9, 2008 at 11:58 am #

    I must break my comment into 2 sections. First, about Rosh Chodesh Adar. Last year, as I was returning home to Hashmonaim during the morning of Rosh Chodesh Adar, I was delayed in entering the yishuv because of the large group of our yeshiva students who were singing and dancing around my car. As I was sitting there enjoying it, the thought of “this is one of the wonderful reasons that we chose to live in Israel” was filling my mind. This year, lehavdil, with the tragedy that just befell us at this year’s Rosh Chodesh Adar, the thought of “this is why we must live in Israel” is what firmly came to mind.

    My second comment is about the response of Jeff Engel. As I just read it, I cannot stop shaking at the thought of it. I find it appalling that one can call a military response, aimed at minimizing civilain death, putting at great risk the lives of our soldiers to minimize Arab civilian death “asymmetric.” Have you been unaware of the last 7 years of missiles fired into southern Israel, WITH THE SPECIFIC AIM of murdering as many civilians as possible? Over 4,000 missiles have been launched. What other country would tolerate over 200,000 citizens living like that? What other country would send in foot soldiers, at tremendous risk, to try to knock out the moving sites setting off the bombs? Of the approximately 100 Arabs killed last week, over 90 were indeed armed terrorists. Your local news reported that most were children, and you readily believed it. The remaining civilians were huddled around rocket launchers as kassams were being fired, cheering on the terrorists. If the parents keep their children in those locations, are the parents to still considered innocent civilians? While there are unfortunate (and very unintentional) minimal civilian casualties, Israel apologizes and mourns the vicitims. We do not celebrate. You speak of the calm in Jersusalem. Had you spoken with any security person there? They will tell you of the hundreds, if not thousands of potentail terror attacks that they have prevented to maintain your ‘calm.’ You speak of the similarity of our cultures. Beyond the fact that we both eat falafel, there are no other similarities. Our culture values human life, hard work and peace. We mourn at the loss of any life. We built with our hands, sweat, belief and the cost of our lives this thriving country. The ‘Palestinians’ (whose ‘culture’ didn’t exist 50 years ago) obviously place no value on any of this. Their schools teach children the ultimate value of ‘martyrdom.’ They celebrate with parties and candy to children the death of each and every civilian. They do not believe in hard work, only hand outs. They were given land, with flourishing hot houses purchased with millions of Jewish American dollars. The hot houses provide jobs, food and opportunity. They were destroyed by the Arabs in merely a couple of days. What about all the billions of dollars in aid the Arabs have received? Rather than spending any of it building a country with hospitals, industry, schools, roads, banks and shops, all the money has been spent on arms – guns, anti-tank missiles, bombs, rockets, etc. Why should they still be living in ‘refugee camps’ after all these years, after all that assistance. Additionally, Israel continues to supply their gas, electricity, food and all other humanitarian aid. All the while, their terrorists intentionally embed themselves in civilian populations, intending the world to cry out, as you have, that Israel is disproportionate in its response. What about prisoners? All the terrorists held in Israeli jails receive regular meals, medical care, family visits as well as Red Cross visits. What about ourkidnapped soldiers that they hold? Why are they not entitled to any of these? Why are their families not even entitled to know if they are still alive? Is this not ‘asymmetric?’ Perhaps your daughter would like to spend a week learning in Sderot, where there are wonderful learning institutions, or you would like to spend some vacation time on a kibbutz in the south. Maybe you can meet some of the families who have lost loved ones to the regular shelling. Perhaps the ones who are ‘only’ maimed don’t count as wounded enough for you. Israel warns civilians to clear out of areas before any military operation to minimize casualties. Arabs aim for the most populated areas. Maybe your daughter would like to spend a year of college learning at a college in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Egypt, Oman, Iraq, Qatar, Libya or any other Arab nation? She couldn’t, simply because she is Jewish. However, in our colleges, universities and hospitals are many Arabs, free to learn and receive the best health care available. Is that not ‘asymmetric?’ Zionism is the belief in a Jewish homeland. If you as a Jew question Israel’s right to exist, in our historical home (as evidenced in everybody’s bible), but never once mentioned in the Koran, why should the Arabs not continue their propoganda that Israel has no right and all land should belong to the Arabs. Apparently, it’s already working on you. That must be what you mean by social justice.

  3. Morey Schwartz Sunday, March 9, 2008 at 1:26 pm #

    Dear Jeff,

    I appreciate your reaction, and especially your willingness to wear your naivety boldly on your sleeve.

    Debbie has squarely taken on the issue, and I need add no more details or examples than the ones she has offered.

    However, I do want to emphasize one central issue.

    Why is it you think that we need to play fair with those whose overtly stated objective is to wipe us out, to push us into the sea, to drive us back to Europe, “where we came from”?

    What is it about self-defense that you don’t understand? This isn’t a wrestling or boxing match where even weights of battling opponents is critical in order to have a fair fight. THIS ISN’T ABOUT FIGHTING FAIR! This is about using the full strength of the Israel DEFENSE forces to stop the random, heinous, spilling of Jewish blood simply because it is Jewish!

    Why are you scared to do what ever we have to do to stop Jewish bloodshed? For 2000 years we were not in a position to protect our people, and now that we are, you are asking for a fair fight! (See an excellent article written yesterday by Daniel Gordis, called The Shame of it All, at http://www.danielgordis.org/Site/Site_Dispatches.asp)

    The dream of Zionism is not to beat up on our neighbors, but rather, to live in peace with them. Sometimes, however, even good must inflict damage and harm in order to eradicate evil.

    Do you really believe that if Israel lays down its weapons and insists on negotiations ONLY that the arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank (and even East Jerusalem!)will sigh a sigh of relief and come running to chat with us, to actually negotiate, rather than just demand? Does not the disengagement from Gaza and the subsequent chaos and missile attacks not make it clear that handing over land to those who seek our destruction is futile?

    Before you or any non-Israel citizen has the right to “demand social justice,” you had set aside your sound-bites and consider long and hard that what we are talking about over here is the real-world, not some theoretical one! You have no right to demand anything under these circumstances! We, the Jewish people – are the inventors of “social justice,” and part of the social justice we invented includes the responsibility to “uproot evil,” (Deut. 13:6), to wage extensive war upon those who do not accept our offer of peace (Deut 20:10-18), and to “kill the one who pursues before he kills you.”[Talmud, Berakhot 62b. Failing to kill the rodef is understood as a violation of the biblical command, “Do not stand by the blood of your brother” (Leviticus 19:16)]

    Social Justice does not mean “turn the other cheek,” That was the invention of another religion – not ours.

    Again, though I disagree with you on all counts, I thank you for sharing your thoughts and giving me the opportunity to elaborate further on my own.

  4. Marc Chervitz Monday, March 10, 2008 at 8:28 am #

    Rabbi, I remember sitting in the Beis Medrash on a Tuesday night many years ago learning with you about the rodef. Knowing that 2 of the most special people in the world to me and my family (hi Debbie) see this issue exactly as I do reminds me that maybe the whole world isn’t crazy and upside down.

    I want Prime Minister Olmert (and Sharon and Barak, etc) to yell from the roof tops, and in every microphone they see that there would not be a single Israeli bullet, if the bombs and rockets stop. Say it over and over again, ad nauseum. There would not be a single shot fired, electricity outlet quieted, gasoline pump rendered empty, if the rockets stop, bombings end and kidnappings cease.

    The problem is, I truly fear increasingly every day, they won’t end. We just read about Amalek. Amalek’s only job, now and historically, is to distance Jews from our objective of bringing the world to G-d, through any means necessary. When you boil it all down, there are only 2 world views: Our G-d centered view, and their Man centered view. Only one can prevail. It was almost ours, immediately following Sinai, until Amalek suicidally attacked. They had no expectation of defeating us that day. Like today, they gladly died just as long as they could kill a few of us. They had no hope of winning. They merely wanted to stop the incredible momentum the Jewish people had following our leaving Egypt and receiving the Torah. The whole world knew the Jews’ story, and that of our G-d. They were marching toward Sinai to participate as well, until Amalek’s suicide attack. That crazy, suicide mission was just enough, as they hoped, to give the world pause. Since that day, century after century, they have continued to kill, and be willing to die in the process, just as long as our world view does not ultimately prevail. Why did the Nazis insanely concentrate on the Jews? Why does Iran today? Why do the Arabs celebrate death just as long as they take us with them? The more America and the world squeezes Iran, the more it bellows about Israel. It makes no sense, unless you see it in the historical continuum it is part of.
    Two world views, one mortal enemy. A terrible enemy that will never be placated, will never negotiate in good faith, and will never give up until their view wins or is eradicated.

  5. Chana Simckes Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 1:51 am #

    Debbie, what a wonderful response! I am so proude of you.

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