Hamas War

Thursday, October 28, 2004

My Ripped Flag

Musings #80
October 27, 2004
The 12rd of Cheshvan

My Ripped Flag

I guess I have to find my ripped flag, since the Keneset has again voted to give Our Land to our enemies and uproot and destroy Jewish communities. Eleven years ago, during the Oslo nightmare, I took a small Israeli flag, ripped it as in the kriya, ripping that a Jew is commanded to do when mourning a close relative, and pinned it to my blouse.

I wore it everyday and every where, to work, to the grocers and even to my son’s Bar Mitzvah. Naively, I expected it to become a popular, mass movenent, non-violent protest. Someone even helped by finding a donor, so we could sell a “kit” that included a ripped flag, a tri-lingual information card, explaining the symbolism, and a safety pin to attach the flag to one’s clothes. We must have sold a few hundred, and a couple of supporters may still have them hanging in their cars.

A few days, or weeks, after Bibi Netanyahu was elected prime minister, with extremely mixed feelings, I took the flag off and put it away. In all honesty I didn’t really believe that he was any sort of “messaiah,” or would be much of an improvement over his predecessors. It’s just that I felt that my protest was a failure. It was considered little more than an eccentricity by most and an embarrassment by my family.

As we all know, Rabin and Peres’s Oslo wasn’t the first Israeli withdrawal, transfer and destruction of Jewish communities. Menachem Begin gave away the Sinai and destroyed the Jewish comunities there in exchange for international praise and illusions of “peace.” I am totally convinced that his realization of how mistaken he was caused his eventual depression, decline and death. He was a fine, moral man and too sensitive for politics. The decades of constant snubs and accusations of his being a terrorist caused him damage. As prime minister, he mistakenly thought that he could permanently change his image if he “made peace.” The only problem is that peace, true peace, can’t be made or manufactured. It has to evolve. It’s like putting a roof on a house before the foundations are poured and the supports are erected. The structure will collapse.

The serious, murderous terrorism we are suffering from today is the collapse caused by “making peace.” Withdrawing from our Homeland and destroying Jewish communities does not make peace. It causes death, terrorism.

The Jewish symbol of mourning is to rip one’s clothes. Clothing, a symbol of man’s first great sin, the eating of the “forbiden fruit.” Clothing the material, materialistic cover, the symbol of pride, vanity.

Eleven years ago, when I first wore that ripped flag some people were horrified. To them the flag had a holiness, and they considered my ripping it sinful, immoral. To them the flag was “too holy” to be used as a protest symbol. For me, only our Holy Land is too holy, too precious to be ripped.

The following is the English text we distributed with the ripped flags:

“Kriy’ah—the tearing of one’s garments—has been a sign of Jewish grief since biblical times: “and Joshua… and Calev…rent their garments.” (Num. 14:6). This torn Israeli flag symbolizes our pain over the Israeli government’s failure to fulfill the Zionist Dream of vibrant Jewish life in all parts of the Land of Israel.”

“Ain chadash tachat l’shemesh” There’s nothing new under the sun. Kohelet

Batya Medad, Shiloh

Sunday, October 24, 2004

The Battle of the Religions

Musings #79
October 23, 2004
The 8rd of Cheshvan

"The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal, that you can gather votes like box-tops is... the ultimate indignity to the demo-cratic process."- Adlai Stevenson

The Battle of the Religions

The Greeks, led by their King, Antiochus tried to destroy Judaism, then the Christians, in many guises including the Crusaders and then the Catholic Church during the Inquisition. Later the Nazis were more concerned with murdering anyone with Jewish ancestors, while in the same century the Communists tried to wipe out all religions, especially Judaism.

But in modern time Judaism has an even more dangerous enemy: DEMOCRACY!

I have to finish this musing quickly. The words were rattling so noisily in my brain, that they were crowding out the shacharit prayers, and I have less than an hour before leaving for boker limud nashim, where I study King David’s T’hilim and his son, King Solomon’s Kohelet. Democracy, the ultimate philosophical hevel, norishkeit.

In recent weeks, as political and spiritual leaders are being “polled” as to their opinions/instructions concerning Arik Sharon’s “disengagement” from yishuv Ha’Aretz, “settling” the Land of Israel, the Land that G-d sent Abraham and all Jews to in this week’s parsha, portion of the Bible, Lech Lecha.

This is a moment of truth between man and G-d, between those considered leaders and the One G-d, HaKodesh Baruch Hu. Some, like HaRav Ovadia Yosef, have publicly stated that we are to oppose Sharon’s plan. But another rabbi, who had been saying confused things, causing many to publicly argue and debate what he means, finally said that “democracy” must rule. Yes, Rabbi Shlomo, “Stevie Wonder,” Riskin stated that as important as Eretz Yisrael is, “Israel is a democracy.” (quoted from The Jerusalem Post, Friday October 22, 2004.)

The same rabbi, who inspired so many of us in the 1960’s, the rabbi who was not embarrassed to be an Orthodox Jew, to doven with a mechitza to posken that the only hair covering for a married female must be 100% obvious, a hat or scarf, not a wig. He was, for us, the epitome of a proud Jew.

Today Rabbi Riskin publicly stated that Judaism is secondary to democracy. I am saddened to write this, but Stevie Wonder is no longer wonderful. He worships demoracy as his primary religion. G-d’s rulings, G-d’s Torah, G-d’s mitzvot, go second to votes in the Keneset.

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein in the same issue of The Jerusalem Post said that “…the government is framing the disengagement in a way that would translate halachically as pikuach nefesh…” so it must be considered as not violating halacha. That brings us to the Adlai Stevenson quotation and the Kohelet shiur I’m rushing to get to.

Rabbis Riskin and Lichtenstein are basing their decisions on norishkeit, not Yiddishkeit. Hevel, vanities, democracy, advertising. Let’s return to our roots and not repeat—ain chadash mitachat lashemesh—there’s nothing new under the sun. Let’s not repeat the sin of the spies. The “people” worshipped democracy; ten spies verses two.

That fatal mistake has been made too many times. Now we must prove to G-d and man that we have learned our lesson. We must follow Joshua and Calev and redeem Our Land.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's Not a Matter of Money!

Musings #78
October 18, 2004
The 3rd of Cheshvan

It’s Not a Matter of Money

The latest headlines say that Arik Sharon will offer more money to the victims of his transfer program, and that the “lucky” recipients won’t even be taxed on their “windfall.” He expects them to be overjoyed.

Sharon totally miss-reads the situation and the minds and hearts of the Jews in YESHA. But even more revealing, is what he shows of his true self. There’s a principle in psychology, projection, that a person demonstrates his true self, his inner self, in what he imagines in others. It is clear that Sharon believes that everyone has a price, like the story of the man who offers the woman a million dollars to sleep with him, and after she agrees, changes the price to a few cents. She, insulted, asks why he thinks her a whore, and he replies that she already established that. Now they’re just haggling over the price.

Obviously Sharon has his price, and he was well paid. He thinks everyone is like him, so he’s haggling. But we the Jews of YESHA aren’t whores. It’s not about money. Neither a nicer house, larger more fertile piece of land, nor a generous deposit in the bank can bribe the good Jews in Gush Katif to leave their homes and destroy their communities and educational institutions. We’re in our Homeland, and that’s where we want to stay. No amount of money can substitute for it.

There is no substitute for Eretz Yisrael and no justification for shrinking the tiny borders of the State of Israel. We didn’t accept Uganda nor Birobijan, and we left Great Neck and Golders Green. We respect and value Israelis’ rights to live in Tel Aviv and Kiryat Tivon. There must be Jews in all of Eretz Yisrael.

This “disengagement” business makes no sense. Not from a security, tactical, diplomatic, psychological, historical—you name the adjective—it’s totally illogical. And “insulting” is the nicest word I can think of. It insults the integrity of every Jew.

People keep asking me whom we’re supposed to follow, which politician should we listen to. These are tough questions in very difficult times. I’m just a “bubby” who teaches English. There are more questions than answers.

This week I started learning Kohelet in a Shiloh women’s study group taught by Rabbi Nissan Ben Avraham. We learned that in “Masechet Shabbat” Shlomo HaMelech is considered a symbol of “irrelevent,” “too smart for your own good” questions. Basically they mock him, though, it was King Solomon who was privileged to build the Beit HaMikdash, the Holy Temple.

Kohelet, like Shlomo HaMelech who wrote it is very controversial. It’s very honest; he admits his doubts and faults. He was a man of many, maybe too many, talents and intelligences and doubts and contradictions. He did everything but fight in a war. That was his father’s specialty. King David fought hard to prepare a peaceful world for his son, but it didn’t give Shlomo personal peace.

King Solomon spent his entire life searching, experimenting. In the end he came to the conclusion that it was all “hevel,” nothing, air. It was like the air that could fill a balloon; none of the material riches were worth anything.

Ariel Sharon hasn’t learned this. His haggling over the price is “hevel.” The Jewish residents of Gush Katif, of YESHA, understand what Shlomo HaMelech writes of in Kohelet. Ain chadash mitachat lashemesh. There’s nothing new under the sun. It’s all “hevel,” norishkeit, vanities, air.

There is no material price, no payment that can compensate for what we won’t give away. Let’s just go on with our real life and continue settling Our Land.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Against the Referendum!

Musings #77
October 17, 2004
The 2nd of Cheshvan

Against the Referendum

Yes, I am against having a referendum to agree or disagree with Sharon’s plan to destroy Jewish communities in Gush Katif and Northen Shomron and to further withdraw from those areas.

Our Jewish right to the Land of Israel is not something to vote on, to choose. It is our inalienable right. After mourning and yearning and being persecuted in other societies for two thousand years, we have returned home.

This “issue” is not one for democracy, public opinion, mediation or high class pr firms. It’s not like one of those exclusive New York co-ops that must approve anyone who tries to buy an apartment. This Land was given to us by G-d thousands of years ago. This coming Shabbat we’ll be reading “Lech Lecha,” in which G-d sends Abram and Sarai on a trek to “the Land I will show you.” This is the Land.

It is written in the Bible, the same Bible valued by both Jews and Christians and used in western countries to “swear the truth.” They don’t swear on U.N. Declarations, political polls or The New York Times. Just when it comes to our rights to the Land of Israel, suddenly the entire world is filled with athiests.

By proposing a referendum the government is demeaning and denying our connection to our Land and our history. And we all know that they only want a referendum because they think they can win. Just like the one for Likud members; they promised to make policy in accordance, but when an overwhelming number voted against Sharon’s plan, all of a sudden, the referendum lost its legitimacy.

We had a referendum, a real one, a national election, just a few years ago. Positions were very clear between the Likud and Labor parties. And remember that there was no personal election for Ariel Sharon as Prime Minister; he got the position as head of the Likud. Sharon, in the name of the Likud, promised to keep Jewish communities, while Mitzna, as head of Labor, promised to withdraw and destroy. There was a landslide victory for the Likud, and after being made prime minister, Ariel Sharon went against that referendum completely. He adopted Labor policies, when the vast majority of the Israeli population voted against them.

This dependence on “votes” makes me wonder. What would have had happened if on November 29, 1947, the infant United Nations had voted against the establishment of a Jewish State. Would David Ben Gurion and followers have established the State of Israel against U.N. recommendations, or would he have welcomed a continuation of foreign rule? Would there have been a real civil war between the pro and anti Jewish State supportors? Would the various pre-state military groups have become so demoralized that the Arabs could have easily been victorious? These questions come to my mind when I think of the possiblity of a referendum.

Fifty-seven years later our politicians haven’t matured much. Those in power are missing the vision we need to flourish. Let’s stop looking to the politicians for leadership; they have failed us.

Batya Medad

Saturday, October 16, 2004


Musings #76
October 14, 2004
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan


Being raised in the United States, in the middle of the last century, I was taught about democracy. We were given very clear definitions, based on the premise that the United States is a democratic country. As I remember, there were a few very basic principles, all included in American Law. The first, of course, is that the majority rules. I remember one Social Studies teacher (the daily course that combined history, civics and geography) told us that American Law is what five out of nine supreme court justices say. The second important principle is “checks and balances.” There are three equally important branches of American government, the executive, legislative and judicial. No one can over rule the two others.

Simple, no, yes, well, maybe if I hadn’t moved to another country. It seems like there are lots of countries that consider themselves democracies. There are even countries that include the word “Democratic” in their names. But when you take a good look at how the governments in these countries function….. well, not quite like I learned in Social Studies.

Unfortunately Israel is one of those “not quite” democracies. I guess that it was always like that here, a sort of “parliamentary dictatorship.” Once someone’s elected to office, he acts like a dictator, a paranoid dictator.

In the early days of the state, people discriminated against were more accepting of their “inferior positions.” Life was very difficult for most of the population, and few people had any idea how other democracies functioned. The 1977 Israeli election was a revolution. For the first time since the state was established in 1948, twenty-nine years earlier, that the “opposition” was victorious. The entire country was incredulous, and that included the victors who didn’t know how to rule. The “Labor Party,” though in the opposition still considered themselves the establishment. Four years later part of their campaign was to insist that since “the riff raff” supported Begin, he wasn’t legitimate shouldn’t win.

When Labor returned to office with Rabin as Prime Minister and the “Oslo Accord” as his chief policy, they accused those of us protesting of “endangering democracy.” Today Sharon, who only joined the Likud in anger at being passed over for the job as head of the army, is continuing and expanding Rabin’s anti-opposition policies.

We, simple, loyal citizens are being told by Israeli President Katzav and others that our disagreement with Sharon’s “disengagement plan” is incitement. They claim that we are endangering the country. They claim that we are not allowed to disagree with the prime minister. Tzachi Hanegbi recently said that for him preserving the Likud Party is more important than protecting and preserving the Jewish communities in Gush Katif and northern Shomron. His politics is more important than Zionist principles, more important than yishuv ha’aretz, more important than our country.

How can a political party be more important than the future of the country? The underlining principle of democracy is that the citizens have a choice, a voice in decisions. That’s what voting is all about. Democracy is for everyday, not just the few symbolic seconds in the voting booth.

My most formative years were the ‘60’s in America, a time when we were encouraged to believe that we could change the world. “The Man of La Mancha” was a Broadway hit. We were proud to go after those “windmills,” and I found mine here in Shiloh.

What is frightening Sharon and his underlings? Why are we being accused of incitement for disagreeing? Why was Arutz 7 Radio closed down? Why is Noam Federman imprisoned, and why is Nadia Matar being investigated?

Israel is supposed to be a democracy. As citizens we have the right to our opinions, and we have a right to voice our opinions. Politicians are supposed to remain in office only as long as they have public support. If they lose support, they must accept it. In a democracy no one is born with the right to rule, and once elected, one is still dependent on public support. A good politician works hard at keeping public support. And a true leader does not need to threaten to guarantee that he has followers.

We will continue to demonstrate and voice our opinions. It is our democratic right.


Saturday, October 9, 2004

Two Reactions to the Terror

Musings #75, two short articles
October 8, 2004
The 23th of Tishrei

Don’t Blame the Victims!

Again, terror, again murder, again Arab terrorists and again Arab murderers. And what did I just hear on the radio? Those Israelis shouldn’t have gone to Egypt, and that wasn’t from people in my neighborhood, or the owners of the hotel in Ariel, or the Jewish residents of Chevron who hosted tens of thousands safely during Succot. It was from the Israeli media interviewing Israeli politicians.

“Since for the past few months there were warnings of possible terror attacks in the Sinai or Taba, the victims are the guilty ones. They should have listened, they should have made those vacation plans. They purposely put themselves in danger.” Yes, that’s right. That’s what those brilliant minds are saying on the radio.

Others are saying that those in the bombed hotel didn’t keep the mitzvot, and if they had been Torah observant Jews, they wouldn’t have been attacked. That implies that G-d killed, maimed and traumatized them, and that isn’t true either.

G-d does not kill, maim and traumatze people in this world. Human beings murder, maim and terrorize; yes, terrrorists are human beings, but they are not humane. There are cruel, sadistic people in this world. The Arab terrorists who planned and carried out the terror attacks are cruel, sadistic people.

The victims are all innocent victims. Their choice of vacation site is not the cause of their death or injuries. We will not stop terrorism until we go after the terrorists with all our strength and might. Our priority must be our own security, not anything else. Don’t let a false, perverse morality dominate. Don’t listen for approval from any other nation.

Only once we focus on our own needs and security we will be truly safe.

My sincere condolences to all of those wounded and mourning.

Raped by the Israeli Media

Terrorism is barbaric. Yes, I think that we all know that, but the cover picture in Yidiot Achronot today was just as bad, an obcenity abusing an injured victim by printing a picture, that can best be described as pornography, of the sado-masochistic variety. The sort of picture that decent people don’t have in their homes, and desperate people get paid to pose for.

Why and how were photographers allowed to wander freely among the injured taking such intimate photos? And if the answer is the shock and chaos, then there still is no excuse in the world for an editor to choose such a picture, such an invasive, peeping, exploitive picture. Whether it was a man, woman or child, the person deserves privacy. Someone will recognize, even if it’s just the one photogrpahed. Salt on the wound is pleasant in comparisan.

Before printing a picture the editor must be able to answer a clear, no doubt, yes to the following two questions:

1- If that was your daughter or son, would you want the picture to be seen?
2- If that was you, would you want your mother, grandmother and children to see the picture.

Considering that Israel has lost “propaganda points” time and time again, because it refused to detail the physical torture of our citizens by Arabs, in order to “spare” the families, it seems much worse to show such pictures.

It reminds me of what happened at a the scene of a terror attack nearby. Our local doctor, was trying to save the life of a young woman, who had been shot. A photographer kept pushing her away, ramming his camera lense to photograph what the dying woman would never had displayed. Another neighbor finally had to use force to keep him away. For defending the murdered woman’s dignity, my neighbor was arrested.

Now, I’d like the photographer and newspaper to be sued by the person pictured on the cover of Yidiot Achronot and like all rape victims, the identity must be kept secret.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

Thursday, October 7, 2004

The Second Time

Musings #74
October 5, 2004
The 20th of Tishrei

The Second Time

I didn’t know what to expect from the second march to Jerusalem, in memory of our neighbor, Avihu Keinan. The first is in that elite category of “Greatest Life Experiences.” The steps we took echo in my soul.

Last year I didn’t really plan on marching. Yes, I strongly identified with it, but I didn’t want to be a full day on the road in the strong Israeli sun. With some vague idea of “meeting up with it, if…” I dressed and prepared myself for an afternoon in Jerusalem sans walking shoes and with a shopping bag suburbanly hanging on my arm. Three hours after my intrepid neighbors started their trek, I left my house. Minutes later a neighbor pulled up by me: “Do you want a ride to join the march? I want to check up on my kids; they’re walking by themselves.”

I took her offer as a message from G-d. She is the friend who pulled me up after the terrorist drove over my foot. Ten minutes later we found the marchers continuing south from Ofra, and I joined. It took a couple of kilometers to find my rhythm, and I, then, began to enjoy the physical sensation of possessing our Land. I readily admit that I rode a few times, but most of the distance was by foot, and the entire experience was indescribably thrilling.

This year I really planned. Dressed in a long heavy cotton skirt, a long-sleeved, high-necked blouse, topped with a Givati-purple* commemorative t-shirt and a very wide-brimmed hat, slathered with sun screen, shod in proper walking shoes, back-up sturdy sandals and clean socks, water, fruit and yogurt in my bag and a camera in my pocketbook—I was prepared! This time I walked from Shiloh to Ofra, the only difficulty being a lack of toilet facilities inhibiting drinking, so when someone offered a shuttle to the Ofra gas station and back, I got in the van.

My “grand plan” was to get to Ofra by foot and then rejoin the march in Jerusalem. I was the oldest female walking, so whatever I accomplished put me “first place” in my category. My daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter were about to drive to Jerusalem as we got to Ofra, so I accompanied them to Pisgat Ze’ev, the first Jerusalem neighborhood on the route. Then, in my marching costume, I entered the Pisgat Ze’ev Shopping Mall and ate a proper restaurant lunch of spinach quiche and salad. Via the cellphone, I was able to know when and where to meet up with the group. Due to army pressure, the walking part was shortened, and they arrived in Pisgat Ze’ev by bus. I hadn’t really missed much. So far it was nothing special of a day, though lunch was good. You know what they say about “second times.”

I must admit that I rode on the highway from Pisgat Ze’ev to French Hill, since I don’t like breathing the pollution from the cars. There we were gathered and told of the final route. We were to walk straight to the Old City, to Sha’ar Shechem, the Damaskas Gate, and then straight through the Arab-filled market to the Kotel.

Armed with Israeli and Shiloh flags we sang as we marched. Then suddenly, it seemed, we were at Sha’ar Shechem, a place most Israelis avoid, even those who feel very comfortable walking to the kotel; there are more welcoming routes. Instead of going straight in, the men and boys began to sing and dance, praising G-d, “v’shavu banim l’gvulam, and your sons have returned to their furthest borders.” Tears of joy. I felt transported to the day in 1967 when I saw the tv newscast of the Israeli paratroopers crying and praying at the kotel.

The singing continued as we marched, proud and strong, through the crowded market to the kotel. We felt safe, at home. The Arabs opened up paths for us, just like when Nachshon stepped into the Red Sea, and the sea opened up for him and Bnai Yisrael.

The second time was even better than the first.

Batya Medad, Shiloh

*The different branches of the Israeli Army are recognized by the colors of their berets. For instance: the paratroopers are a dark red, the tank corps, black, and Givati is a deep, strong purple.


Monday, October 4, 2004

Democracy? No to the Referencum!

Musings #73
October 3, 2004
The 18th of Tishrei

No to the Referendum!

The majority isn’t always right. Whoever it was who said that a people get the government they deserve was probably right, especially if he was referring the the “democratic process.”

This topic has been rattling around in my head for quite a while, sort of stuttering to be heard. I know it’s a sensitive topic, one that can really alienate some readers. Sometimes I write my musings quickly, fluently, without fits and starts, but usually they wander in various directions until after lots of typing and judicious deletes, they take proper form. And sometimes, once they’re finished I wonder where the words really came from.

Today I was sure some of the women at the kotel wondered what was going on. They saw a middle-aged woman in the middle of saying t’hilim who kept taking out paper and pen to write, turning the paper in all sorts of directions to find empty space, and in the end, it was put in her purse, not crammed in a crack between the ancient stones.

The majority is sometimes very wrong, remember Adolf Hitler was elected to office in a democratic election. The holy majority gave him his power. The majority can’t be trusted to do what’s moral, what’s right. Democracy is a very unreliable religion. Yes, it’s a religion, and so is liberalism, socialism and communism. It’s amazing how makpid, strict, people can be towards a religion that substitutes ideology or fashion for G-d.

Millions of people all over the world, who consider tzniyut, the Jewish laws of modesty, to be primitive, neurotic and worse, would die before showing up to a “white tie” affair in a knee-length dress or sports jacket. G-dless religions take many forms.

I could have had gone to the Bible for examples of how the majority errs on major issues. The classic case, straight from the Biblical text, is the story of the “scouts,” frequently called “The Sin of the Spies.” Soon after the Jewish People escaped from Egypt, under the leadership of Moshe, he sent a delegation of twelve, the elite from each of the tribes. They were asked to “scout” the Land, like a modern “pilot trip,” before everyone was to enter. Instead of encouraging the people, or at least coming up with a workable game plan, ten out of the twelve—the vast majority—reported that problems were ahead. They did a very logical, rational “feasibility study” and analyzed the facts on the ground very carefully. The obvious conclusion was that entering the Land would be too dangerous. Moshe, Joshua and Calev did their best to persuade otherwise, and in the following referendum, the majority of the people voted with the ten. That’s the reason for the forty year trek, until a new generation replaced those who voted with the majority of spies/scouts.

No offense, but I have this feeling that many readers won’t be swayed by the Biblical example. So I was wracking my brain for a better example, unconnected to modern politics but close enough, so that no one can accuse me of partisan politics, so while sitting close to the kotel and saying t’hilim, it hit me. And since I admit to advanced “information overload” I knew that if I didn’t write it down...

Hitler’s election is a classic, also the subsequent reactions of the German people to obey all of his edicts. The non-Jewish Germans who with unbridled enthusiasm restricted and attacked the Jews, and the Jews who humbly and with strict, law-abiding “dignity” accepted the “inconveniences.” Only a very small minority of both populations refused.

In my humble opinion, the results of a referendum have even less legitimacy than the toss of a coin.

If we had honest, patriotic leadership here in Israel, nobody would even think of a referendum, and there wouldn’t be Judenrat-like letters sent to Jewish families. If we had honest, patriotic leadership here in Israel Jews would be proudly and enthusiastically encouraged to live in all of Eretz Yisrael. If we had honest, patriotic leadership here in Israel, no foreigner would even think of criticizing us. If only we had honest, patriotic leadership here in Israel…

“Heimah kar’u v’naflu, v’anachnu kamnu v’nit’oded. Hashem hoshi’ah, HaMelech ya’aneinu b’yom kar’einu.” (T’hilim Psalms XX, 9-10) “They slumped and fell, but we were invigorated. G-d, save! May the King answer us on the day we call.”


Friday, October 1, 2004

A Few Thoughts

Musings #72
September 28, 2004
The 13th of Tishrei

A Few Thoughts
The Protection of the Succah

Traditionally the succah is not considered to be a protective structure. It’s the antithesis of materialism. Even if there’s a permanence to its walls, the roof, ceiling must be removable. The branches covering it must be detached from its tree. Almost everyone who builds them regularly has stories of “the year it blew away…” Sometimes just the schach, and sometimes the whole succah, or a wall or more. I remember rain so strong and heavy that decorations melted into the trash.

This year has been desert dry in the Samarian Mountains. It’s the first year I can remember that we felt the heat of the sun, inside the succah. For the past fifteen years or so, I’ve felt the succah to be a protecting place, regardless of the wisdom of the sages. It was about fifteen years ago, when we were on our then traditional, annual family trip to the kotel and the succah at the edge of the enormous plaza.

From the time I had been in Israel as a student, the year before I got married, I liked to eat in the succah near the kotel. It was always crowded with visitors from all over, all different costumes and customs. All different foods and serving methods. Having been raised with waxed paper sandwich bags, saranwrap and tin foil, I couldn’t understand how other mothers were schlepping pots of chicken and rice to such a crowded public place. They were also much more successful than I at grabbing and claiming the few tables and chairs for their families. My poor kids had to make due with wholewheat sandwiches and fruit, the five of them sharing a couple of chairs, or sitting on the food, strewn floor.

After almost twenty Succot in Israel, we had reached a rather boring routine, and then we heard it. It sounded like a battle. We had no idea what was going on. Then after finding cracks to peek through, we saw heavy stones, looking from our distance like tennis balls being tossed mechanically, like from the machines they had in my high school to occupy those of us deemed too inferior for proper tennis instruction. Arabs from our Har Habayit, Temple Mount, were attacking Jews praying at the kotel underneath. Why had G-d enabled us to liberate Jerusalem if we gave the Arabs the upper hand?

Our army was retaliating, by shooting “tear gas” at the attacking Arabs. In actuality, all that did was to further endanger the Jews, who had to cover their eyes as they then fled blindly. In the tzell , shade of the succah, we breathed clean air. No irritants, no tear gas in our eyes. The succah protected us. Then the soldiers came and ordered us out, ordered us to flee, ordered us to breathe the poisons, expose our eyes to danger.

“The King is in His Altogether” or
What Really Happened to That Little Boy

Everyone knows the story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” how the foolish emperor allowed himself to be convinced that he was dressed in magic clothes that could only be seen by the wise. He was too proud and embarrassed to admit that he couldn’t see them, so he pretended to see their magnificent colors, jewels, design. In his enthusiasm to show all his wisdom he paraded, so dressed, in front of all his subjects, who, also, insisted that they could see the magic fabric.

Then suddendly a little boy, too young, naïve, honest to realize that admitting that he couldn’t see any fabric would make him look “like an idiot” called out: “The emperor has no clothes!” or as Danny Kaye sang so cheerfully: “The King is in His Altogether!” The traditional story ends with the crowds admitting that the boy was right, and the emperor, very embarrassed, trying to re/cover his dignity.

But in real life, the little boy is accused of incitement. A criminal file is opened. Yes, that’s the truth. Just ask Nadia Matar.

Batya Medad