Refuse to Surrender
Jewish time is not measured in years. It is measured in space; the transitions from one age to another continually merge with each other. Rabbi Hanina ben Teradyon casting a merciful last rite on his Roman executioner who chose to die with his victim juxtaposed against teacher Janusz Korczak who went with his orphan charges to the extermination camp. All escaped the misery of this world. Is it Jewish fate to leave the world rather than to live in it? How many times does the energy of Satan need to be destroyed? Is this the unrelenting rhythm of Jewish life? Yet there is "Next Year in Jerusalem" under the safety of the Iron Dome!
Fire, the source of life, is fire, the beacon of death, for nameless children whose only crime is that their parents wish to believe in an ineffable unseen force. The pagans worship images as if from a void but cannot accept the essence of a spiritual sustenance of a different order -- a force of thirteen attributes.
But it never merely stops with the Jews as Martin Niemöller a prominent Protestant pastor acknowledged when he wrote:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out --
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me -- and there was no one left to speak for me.
The Jew has always been the canary in the mine. And now Christ's descendants burn at the hands of Hagar's children as more of G-d's creatures are thrown on the pyre. And mankind looks away yet again while Christian Coptics beseech the world to help them and Jews in France hurriedly pack their bags and flee to the Promised Land to escape the fury of the European jihadist human beasts.
Elie Wiesel continues to be a "still small voice" persisting even when his comrades-in-camp, Primo Levi, Jerzy Kosinski, and Paul Celan committed suicide having endured so much in the concentration camps. We are living in a world where Islamic terrorists revile the “little Satan” and forswear to kill every last Jew. Where Arab leaders would rather let their own people go without water than share a drop of it with the Jews! Where black-hooded men behead Christians and hold the dripping heads in triumph. Where Yazidi women are enslaved and raped. Where Christian adolescent girls are ripped from their mother's arms in Nigeria never to be seen again.
Even the basic instinct of self-preservation is debased in this world of shadows and darkness and jihad. How can parents of homicide bombers spur on their own flesh and blood to carry out such heinous acts? Banality of evil? There is nothing banal about this evil. It is the akedah story come to pass. It is the nether world of an act that haunts Jews and now Christians everywhere. Why don’t the Arab mothers cry out to stop the bloodshed? Why don’t they comfort Ishmael, the child, still crying in the desert? Yet, they collect the blood money and honor this culture of death. Do they not understand that "the test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children?" How can they squander their babies' futures like this? When will maternal instinct trump Islamic terror?
The spectacle of sheer evil rears its ugly head when once we had thought that the ovens of Hitler were the worst that people could do to other people. The heavenly angels avert their eyes from the sight of such wanton destruction. For Samael, angel of death, even this is too much!
As time merges, so does the anguish of the ancestors and their descendants. The children of the tattooed Holocaust survivors wear a spiritual tattoo. They are confined such that it is always about the deeper meaning of things. Showers, chimneys, even pinstriped suits -- the specially selected lexicon of the chosen few, arcane to the uninitiated.
Yet the toxic hate and indifference of the world continues. Moses and Abraham argued with G-d. Holocaust survivors put G-d before a tribunal. What is there left for us to do now? What responsa needs to be written this day? If the Golem were to arise, what would the mute, lumbering fool be able to do?
What perverse instinct is in mankind that it cannot tolerate differences? Would the Genome Project be able to pinpoint the DNA that assures mutual respect for one another? Concern that we may be playing G-d with the advent of revolutionary technology really misses the point. Man has already played G-d one too many times in the past, yet the moral ethicists keep opining.
And still the Land of Milk and Honey stands in stark contrast to the enemies that surround it. Against all odds, Israel fights the moral blight that surrounds her and continues to use technology to help all of mankind. Israel takes seriously the moral obligation to be a light unto the nations, be they Jew or Gentile, despite the hate spewed at her by so much of the world.
Paranoia is surely the shadow of the intelligent Jew. We are encumbered with memories that need no dates for they are timeless and unremitting. We say the Shema; we strain to hear Rabbi Akiva’s thought that “it’s all for the best.” For we will not believe that the chimneys are the final solution. Israel is the proof of that. No longer will Jews have to wander without the hope of rest. And Israel is a country that welcomes other wanderers of other faiths who seek refuge and shelter. In fact, Judaism respects other traditions of mankind.
There has long been a Jewish kabbalistic belief that there are 36 righteous people who will correct the course, who will bring back normalcy and compassion for all people, since all are created in the image of God. This ardent hope and faith is that there are "...thirty-six righteous people whose role in life is to justify the purpose of humankind in the eyes of God. Jewish tradition [also] holds that their identities are unknown to each other [.]" When the Partisans resisted the Nazi regime, they would sing "Zog Nit Keynmol." It is a Yiddish song whose title derives from the first line of the song "Never say that you have reached the final road [.] When leaden skies may cover over days of blue. As the hour that we longed for is so near. Our steps will make a drum beat -- we are here!"
With fires still smoldering, a bewildered and emaciated man poignantly cries out to G-d asking for help.
"G-d, why is this happening? Why don't you send someone to aid your people? Why is there so much misery in the world? How can you let this happen to the very creatures you have made -- to the little ones especially? Why don't you send someone to help?"
"I did send someone; I sent you."
Who among us will be the thirty-six to bring us back from the brink?
Eileen can be reached at email@example.com