We Need An End To Pain For All Nations And For All People – #BringBackOurBoys [ Parshat Korach By Rabbi Zalman Lent]

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Almost exactly eight years ago, on the 25th of June 2006, a young IDF soldier by the name of Gilad Shalit was captured by Hamas terrorists and held captive for over five years.

Jews and Israelophiles remember vividly the day he was captured and the day he was released, the anguish and the joy. Those who demonise Israel and the IDF took comfort in the fact that this was a military raid, a captured soldier and a legitimate bargaining chip to trade for those held in Israeli prisons.

This week, once again, Israeli citizens have been captured by the terror group Hamas, with no word as to their whereabouts for the last six days. This time is different though; this time there is no “military” excuse, even for the most hardened haters of Israel. These are just boys, sixteen year old teenagers who play sports, listen to music, study in school and mess around with their friends. Yet in the eyes of those who crave war they are legitimate targets too. In early 2011, five members of the Fogel family in Itamar were butchered to death as they slept, including three children, the youngest only three months old. In some perverse way, they too were seen as legitimate targets, simply for living in the land bequeathed to our ancestors as an everlasting inheritance.

As we wait anxiously day by day, for word of the boys’ rescue in good health, one thing gives us hope, one thing makes us proud – Jewish unity. Across the globe, in every shape and size of Jewish community prayers have been said for these young men and their families. Jews of every nationality and denomination have gathered together to recite the psalms of King David, praying for deliverance from evil. We know from time immemorial that the strongest weapon of all, the battering ram that opens all the doors of heaven, is unity, harmony and Ahavat Yisrael. When G-d looks down at His people and sees them standing “as one man with one heart,” the Divine attributes of mercy and kindness are aroused and strengthened.

G-d willing, by the time you read these words, they will no longer be relevant, and Eyal, Gilad and Naftali will be home safe, enjoying a Shabbat in the loving embrace of family and friends. I pray that is the case.

In the Torah reading this week we read of a very different situation, a lack of harmony within the Jewish nation, en route from Egypt to Israel. Conflict reared its ugly head, as accusations of nepotism and favouritism were thrown at the long suffering Moses, who had appointed certain people for leadership roles and not others. Of course he had done this at the behest of G-d, but when people feel overlooked or neglected it is hard to make them see sense. Korach, a first cousin of Moses and Aaron, wanted a role he was not given, and he challenged them openly, with the support of hundreds of like-minded admirers.

Moses’ response was swift and decisive. We know from previous incidents that he did not care about his own honour or prestige (if only all the nation were prophets … etc.), but he knew only too well the dangers of division and conflict, of anarchy without leadership. He prayed to G-d, and Korach and his followers were swallowed into a sinkhole in the ground … the rebellion was over in a moment, and once again the people were united.

Unity does not mean sameness and uniformity; in fact just the opposite. Unity is the term used when different, disparate beings join together in a common purpose, for the greater good. Our differences are what make us special and unique; our differences are what give each of us our distinctive challenges in life, our individual struggles and battles of will. It is the vivid array of different personalities, traits, desires and attributes that make up the beautiful tapestry of a community, a nation, a people. We all have our own unique gift, the singular contribution to society that only we can make, and it is all of those “colours” that come together to make up a magnificent multi-hued painting.

Let us hope that in the merit of our joining together as one global family, G-d will show the compassion of a father to his young children, bringing these three young men home, safe and sound.

Let us hope too, that this feeling of brother and sisterhood does not dissipate once things are good once more. For we need much more than the return of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali; we need an end to pain, sickness and suffering, for all nations and for all people; we need an end to exile and assimilation; we need an end to a world darkened by terror and evil.

In the words of King David, recited this week countless times:

I raise my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come? My help is from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth… for the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Zalman Lent

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Rabbi Zalman Lent is a Community Rabbi in Dublin and director of Chabad of Ireland.

 

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