I don’t like getting political because I’ve been there and it’s an energy-sucking lifestyle. But a few events are coming together that make me have to say this.
The Itamar murders were the utmost in terror and hate crime. Killing defenseless people – children – in their sleep is the utmost in cowardly and not a way to achieve justification or revenge or sympathy for any cause. It’s not a productive, constructive, or human way to let out your anger, frustration, hate. It takes a lot to get to that point of monster status. Maybe read more about it here. There’s a lot I could say, but that’s not my point right now.
My point is this: The calls for bloody revenge; the calls for revenge on animals who could have done this; the calls to keep it up with cyclical violence – also, not going to help. On either side, we’re begging for our children to grow up hateful and vengeful. And with motive. It’s painful to hear Jews calling for bloodshed and violence. Yes, war is a part of life, a civilizational necessity, there’s a whole bunch of political philosophy on that. But there’s also a required state of thinking it through and not being blind, deaf and ignorant.
So when I see today the same folks saying things like, how amazing are we for saving the baby of an Arab mother in late stage labor, whose cord was wrapped around the neck, stuck in a taxi cab that went to Itamar to find help… Yes, it is amazing. Absolutely amazing. In fact, it’s what was commanded of us as Children of Israel. There are other stories like it too. They help when we mankind seem to be getting out of hand. Truly inspiring to know there are humans around us at times like this.
But then, might you want to think twice before getting all vengeful with violence? Maybe there are alternative modes of revenge?
Which brings me to Parshat Zachor which we read this week as Purim approaches.
Speaking of Purim – a holiday where they tried to kill us, once again, and here we are partying it up with kids generations later. Lovely legacy, really. Not that we didn’t take revenge at the time; that last couple chapters of the megillah are a bit hard to read, but like I said, sometimes war is a necessity in nature, right? But if it’s not hard for you to read it – what does that say about you?
Anyway, Zachor. An official mandate from the Torah to deal with our utmost enemies. The really bad guys. The Hitlers, the Hamans. At least, so the interpretation goes; who is Amalek anyway, and do they still exist?
My problem is this: Why do so many people automatically go into kill mode when discussing, ‘wiping out the memory of Amalek from under heaven – do not forget!‘ Why is this interpreted as killing every single member of Amalek, from men to women to children? Why is it automatically assumed to mean killing? Why can’t ‘wiping out memory’ be genocide of hatred as opposed to genocide of people? Why can’t it be a combination of resolutions? Why talk in absolutes?
And, if it is true that it means destroy-kill, where is the human remorse in what we’ve been commanded to do?
Why isn’t there pain in our voices as we discuss it? It’s a bitter pill, meant to taste bad. Does it not make you uncomfortable? Does it not make you squirm? Have we lost our sense of humanness when we get to these topics?
And how is that different from anyone who’d find it in themselves to support a hateful, vengeful, murderous Palestinian killing a sleeping Jewish baby?
It’s not political for me. I’m a mother. I want my babies to be safe… forever. And I want other people’s babies to be safe so mine will stay safe. We’re all human, we’re all trying to survive. Maybe sometimes it would be good to remember that as we come up with ways to make that happen.