This is a guest column by Rabbi Da-vid Rosenthal, from Aish Minnesota.
I have struggled this week whether to look or not.
There are some events that are too horrible to think about. The horrendous slaughter of a young family in Israel has occupied my mind throughout the week. The pictures of the slain family lying in pools of blood were published by Israel. I have heard discussions about the wisdom of publishing those pictures – some are totally flabbergasted, others are in complete agreement.
I have not yet looked at the images. They are very close to home. The children’s ages were Yoav(11), Elad(4) and Hadas (3 months). I myself have a four year old boy, and a seven month old baby girl. They leave behind 3 orphans – Tamar(12), Roi(8) and Yishai(2).
And even though I have not yet looked, I feel it is extremely important that we not shield ourselves from the event. We need to look evil in the eye, and understand how truly wicked are the people that we are dealing with. To run away and go back to our regular lives is like going on with business as usual as the 9/11 planes crash into our office building.
There are two parts here.
Firstly acknowledging that there is evil in the world.
This is a fact that is all too often brushed under the carpet. People think that circumstances produce bad acts, not people. For example, the presence of settlements is used as an excuse for the terrorism. This is not a Torah perspective. Of course, circumstances can influence the setting of a particular decision, but at the end of the day, it is the person himself that chooses to either be good or evil.
Evil cannot be discussed away, cannot be negotiated with, and cannot be trusted. It must be destroyed.
Unfortunately, we envision our enemy as we do ourselves. Just as we cannot imagine having such cruel intentions, we project that inability onto our enemies, and assume they must really be decent people who are just under difficult circumstances. I have heard the claim of insanity – surely anyone who committed such a terrible act must be insane! The people in Gaza celebrated the news of the slaughtering of the Fogel family – they distributed candies and cheered in delight (similar to their reaction on 9/11). Can we imagine such vile behavior? When we, by necessity, kill our enemies, it is with a heavy heart and regret for no alternative. The evil that was present in the murderous actions of the few, seems to have permeated their entire society.
The second point is much more personally challenging.
If good is to triumph, we must be as committed to it, as our enemies are to evil. Our enemies are willing to kill or be killed in their struggle to assert their dominance over the Western world. Do we feel as committed to our values as they are to theirs? If we are not, then we are doomed.
There was an interview with a Jordanian minister after the war of 1948 asking why they were beaten by the Israelis. He responded that the Arabs were outnumbered 10-1. When confronted with the actual statistics, he said “No, you don’t understand. Although we outnumbered them statistically, there were 10 times as many of them that were willing to die for their cause, than there were on our side.”
Do you know what you’re willing to die for? Do you have such clarity in your beliefs?
The evil is not going to disappear by itself. It is only through clarity and commitment to that clarity that we can hope to defeat the murderers of the Fogel family.
What are you willing to die for?
What value is so important to you that you would put everything on the line?
May we all have a peaceful Shabbat, and may Hashem end all evil soon in our days. Good Shabbos
(Photos: commons, wikimedia commons)