Monday, June 30, 2014

What we need to do now: Thinking of Eyyal, Gilad and Naftali, zichronam livracha

Watching the news, listening to the politicians and the analysts, reading the status messages on Facebook and Twitter, the following is clear to me:

Now is the time for one thing and one thing only: 


To feel the deep, penetrating sadness. 

To send messages of support and embrace to the families.

That is all.

Now is NOT the time to argue about the strength of a response.

Now is NOT the time to talk about either showing military restraint or building new communities in whatever name you use to refer to the land to the East, between the "Green Line" of armistice and the "Blue Line" of the Jordan River.

Now is NOT the time to dehumanize the "Smolanim," the leftists  or those Israeli citizens who live in Gush Etzion (often referred to as "Mitnachalim," Settlers).

There will be time to debate what is cause and what is effect. 

There will be time for all of the above.

But there is only now to feel the immediacy of the pain, of the loss, of the sadness.

Now is the time to focus on what binds us together as a family, as a people, as a nation.

We owe it to the three beautiful souls snatched from this world, to their families and last, and in this case least,

to ourselves. 

Let the memory of Eyyal, Gilad and Naftali forever be for a blessing.

May their parents be comforted along with all the mourners of Zion and Israel.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bring Them Home Alive!

ויש תקווה לאחריתך, נאום-יהוה; 
ושבו בנים, לגבולם

And there is hope for your future, declares The Lord; 
Your children shall return to their country.
Jeremiah 31:16

Walking around Jerusalem, you might think everything is “business as usual.”  Traffic in the morning is as bad as ever and people honk their horns within a nanosecond of the light turning green.  As always, the woman who hands out newspapers at the corner of Keren HaYesod and Agron Streets is there today.  People still say hello and smile.  

The reality, however, is different.  The tension in the air, the concern, the hope and the fear are all palpable.  Three teenagers, Gilad Sha'ar, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frankel, kidnapped on Thursday night, are still missing. Their safety and well-being is in the forefront of our minds. Talking with others, I hear the same thing over and over again.  It is hard to concentrate.  It is hard to focus.  Little problems that under other circumstances elicit disproportionate, frustrated reactions are swept aside as if they are nothing. The return, alive, of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali is all that matters.

Right now, we are stuck between the compelling desire to want to do something and the grating frustration that there is little we can do.  We send words of support to the family, we share messages on social media and we look for any shred of good news.  The tradition of praying from the Book of Psalms helps us act and articulate, privately and communally, our  thoughts and feelings.  The Psalms are aspirational.  They express our hope for a certain outcome, a positive outcome: the return of our boys to their families. They are not a guarantee.  While the IDF forces search for Eyal, Gilad and Naftali, we send them and their families strength through our prayers.

I ask that you, my friends of all faiths, join me and others throughout the world in praying the words of Psalms 121 and 142 several times each day, keeping in mind our three kidnapped boys in the hope that they will return alive into the warm embrace of their parents and their families very soon.


תהילים קכ״א

 שִׁיר, לַמַּעֲלוֹת:
אֶשָּׂא עֵינַי, אֶל-הֶהָרִים--    מֵאַיִן, יָבֹא עֶזְרִי.
ב  עֶזְרִי, מֵעִם ה׳--    עֹשֵׂה, שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ.
ג  אַל-יִתֵּן לַמּוֹט רַגְלֶךָ;    אַל-יָנוּם, שֹׁמְרֶךָ.
ד  הִנֵּה לֹא-יָנוּם, וְלֹא יִישָׁן--    שׁוֹמֵר, יִשְׂרָאֵל.
ה  ה׳ שֹׁמְרֶךָ;    ה׳ צִלְּךָ, עַל-יַד יְמִינֶךָ.
ו  יוֹמָם, הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ לֹא-יַכֶּכָּה;    וְיָרֵחַ בַּלָּיְלָה.
ז  ה׳, יִשְׁמָרְךָ מִכָּל-רָע:    יִשְׁמֹר, אֶת-נַפְשֶׁךָ.
ח  ה׳, יִשְׁמָר-צֵאתְךָ וּבוֹאֶךָ--    מֵעַתָּה, וְעַד-עוֹלָם

A song for ascents.

I turn my eyes to the mountains; 
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
Maker of heaven and earth.
God will not let your foot give way;
Your guardian will not slumber;
See, the Guardian of Israel 
Neither slumbers nor sleeps!
The Lord is your guardian, 
The Lord is your protection at your right hand.
By day the sun will not strike you, 
Nor the moon by night.
The Lord will guard you from all harm; 
Adonai will guard your life.
The Lord will guard your going and 
Coming now and forever.

תהילים קמ״ב

א  מַשְׂכִּיל לְדָוִד;
בִּהְיוֹתוֹ בַמְּעָרָה    תְפִלָּה.
ב  קוֹלִי, אֶל-ה׳ אֶזְעָק;    קוֹלִי, אֶל-ה׳ אֶתְחַנָּן.
ג  אֶשְׁפֹּךְ לְפָנָיו שִׂיחִי;    צָרָתִי, לְפָנָיו אַגִּיד.
ד  בְּהִתְעַטֵּף עָלַי, רוּחִי--    וְאַתָּה, יָדַעְתָּ נְתִיבָתִי:
בְּאֹרַח-זוּ אֲהַלֵּךְ--    טָמְנוּ פַח לִי.
ה  הַבֵּיט יָמִין, וּרְאֵה--    וְאֵין-לִי מַכִּיר:
אָבַד מָנוֹס מִמֶּנִּי;    אֵין דּוֹרֵשׁ לְנַפְשִׁי.
ו  זָעַקְתִּי אֵלֶיךָ,    ה׳:
אָמַרְתִּי, אַתָּה מַחְסִי;    חֶלְקִי, בְּאֶרֶץ הַחַיִּים.
ז  הַקְשִׁיבָה, אֶל-רִנָּתִי--    כִּי-דַלּוֹתִי-מְאֹד:
הַצִּילֵנִי מֵרֹדְפַי--    כִּי אָמְצוּ מִמֶּנִּי.
ח  הוֹצִיאָה מִמַּסְגֵּר, נַפְשִׁי--    לְהוֹדוֹת אֶת-שְׁמֶךָ:
בִּי, יַכְתִּרוּ צַדִּיקִים--    כִּי תִגְמֹל עָלָי.

A Maskil of David, while he was in the cave. 
A prayer:

I pray aloud to the Lord; 
I appeal to the Lord loudly for mercy.
I pour out my complaint before God;
I lay my trouble before Adonai 
When my spirit fails me.
You know my course;
They have laid a trap in the path I walk.
Look at my right and see-I have no friend;
There is nowhere I can flee, 
No one cares about me.
So I cry to You, O Lord; I say,
”You are my refuge and 
All I have in the land of the living.”
Listen to my cry
For I have been brought very low;
Save me from my pursuers, 
for they are too strong for me.
Free me from prison, 
that I may praise Your name.
The righteous shall glory in me for
Your gracious dealings with me.