Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah
November 2, 2023 18 Cheshvan 5784 VayeraJust this morning, I created a new folder on my computer desktop entitled “Israel & Antisemitism.” Antisemitism isn’t new, and I’ve written a lot about antisemitism in the past. However, I never felt like I needed a whole separate folder until now. Then, I decided to scroll through my most recent social media posts. Of the last fifty, 48 of them were about Israel and the antisemitic response to the war between Israel and Hamas. The other two were about the anniversary of the Tree of Life shooting and a phishing scam using my name (not exactly pick-me-ups). Over the last three weeks, I haven’t posted a single picture of my family, a single joke, a single sports commentary, or anything remotely cheery. It’s a pretty accurate reflection of how I’ve felt since the horrible events of October 7. I keep wondering if it can get any worse. So, I’ve been trying to figure out which part of this horrible situation makes me feel the worst. Is it the hostages—especially the children and babies? Is it all the killing? Is it Israel’s military vulnerability, which I had never seriously considered? Is it the antisemitic response after the initial day or two of consolation? Or is it all of the above? I can’t really answer that question, but I can say that one thing that has really hurt during these past three weeks is hearing people whom I know to be good, kind, and smart people, parroting Hamas propaganda. On its face, the call for a ceasefire seems fair and even-handed. But, it ignores the fact that there have been four previous conflicts between Israel and Hamas during which the world forced a ceasefire before Israel could disarm Hamas. Each time, Hamas reorganized and re-armed itself for the next attack. Furthermore, there was a ceasefire in place in the early hours of October 7. We all know how that worked out. A call for a ceasefire is an invitation for Hamas to try again—maybe next year, maybe in three years, but they will definitely try again. In addition, there is the argument that the number of civilian deaths somehow indicates that Israel is targeting civilians. First of all, I have to say that I am a human being, and every civilian death in this war pains me—regardless of which side of the border. However, let’s use a little logic here. Hamas understands that a high Palestinian civilian death count puts pressure on Israel. That is why the terrorists hide in the bunkers under Gaza and do not allow women and children to enter. Further, in WWII, there were FAR more German civilian deaths than US civilian deaths or British civilian deaths. Does that make Germany the good guys? Even now, Hamas could release the hostages and stop shooting rockets on civilian targets in Israel in order to prevent civilian deaths, but they won’t. And yet, somehow, the world sees Hamas and Israel as morally equivalent—or Israel as lower than Hamas. I just don’t get it. In this week’s Torah portion, God tells Abraham about the impending destructions of Sodom and Gomorra. Abraham can’t believe that God would destroy whole cities if there were good people there. God gave Abraham the opportunity to identify and save any good people in those towns. After finding no others, Abraham ensured that Lot and his family were able to get out before the destruction. Conversely, Hamas indiscriminately fires rockets at civilians because their goal is to kill all Jews “between the river and the sea”—with no concern as to whether there are good people there. And if we didn’t previously believe them, they showed us exactly what they want to do to all the Jews of Israel on October 7. Further, Hamas prevents Palestinian civilians from getting out of the way of the war they started. They have set up barricades and used disinformation about Israel to convince Palestinians to stay in harm’s way. They are truly the spiritual heirs to Sodom and Gomorra, and they deserve the same fate. Hopefully, after Israel destroys their military capabilities and eliminates their terrorist leaders, the innocent Palestinian civilians will get to start over like Lot and his family. Then, perhaps, there can be a new start for both the State of Israel AND the State of Palestine. Shalom, RAF.