Elster's World

Thursday, July 13, 2006

17 Tammuz

As I sat in shul this morning, I contemplated on 17 Tammuz and what it means to me. Generally, not so much. It is the start of the “Three Weeks”, a forewarning to the “Nine Days” – for most of us buzz words that denote that annoying part of the summer when we can’t get haircuts, eat meat, go to movies or listen to music (to name a few). The Selichos we daven this morning list many of the tragic events which occurred to the Jewish people on 17 Tammuz. This list is quite long, though the most famous tragedy associated with this day was the breaching of the walls of the city of Jerusalem – the first step in the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash.

Yet it is so much easier to dredge up the feelings of sadness on Tisha B’av then it is on 17 Tammuz. The feelings simply aren’t as readily available on 17 Tammuz as they are on Tisha B’av, unquestionably, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

But this year, it has been a little easier to suffer the sadness. While I was sitting in shul, I realized that Israeli soldiers were in the process of fighting a two-front war in Gaza and Lebanon. That soldiers much younger than me had been killed by Hezbollah. That kidnapped soldiers were being held as trade bait by killers and terrorists. And rockets were falling over beloved Tsfat as well. And threats were made of bombings of Chaifah. All of a sudden, perspective was easy.

The events unfolding in Israel have a different feel to them this time. This isn’t some incursion into an occupied territory in the West Bank. Israel has entered into another country to retaliate for what it feels was an act of war against it. Read that again – an act of war. War. The very word makes me shiver. I enjoy the concept much more on the silver screen than I do in connection with our homeland.

So what happens next? Does Israel inflict some heavy damage and pull out of Lebanon? Will troops once again be permanently staged in a buffer zone? Worse, does Syria and other Arab nations decide that the time is ripe and enter the fray? Will this “little” war develop into something else entirely?

Of course, I have no answers to these questions. I’m just walking around with a slightly better perspective today than I normally carry with me. My prayers meant a little more this morning and all of my kavanah was centered on the troops and people of Israel. As reports filter in that Israel is intensifying their attacks in Lebanon I am left hoping that the resolutions to this conflict will be swift and successful. I will fast today not only to commemorate the first steps in the destruction of the temple, but also to offer my meaningless prayers that Israel of today will not suffer the same fate of our ancestors.

3 Comments:

  • "The events unfolding in Israel have a different feel to them this time. This isn’t some incursion into an occupied territory in the West Bank. Israel has entered into another country to retaliate for what it feels was an act of war against it. Read that again – an act of war. War. The very word makes me shiver. I enjoy the concept much more on the silver screen than I do in connection with our homeland."

    So when civilains are blown up repeatedly, and Israel responds by entering the cities in Judea and Samaria (what you refer to as "occupied territory in the West Bank"), that's no big deal.

    But when soldiers are killed or captured, since that's an act of war, everyone gets very excitable.

    Does it occur to nobody that terror against civilians is a worse act than even an act of war against soldiers? I'm not downplaying the gravity of the latter, just lamenting that we have become accumstomed to the former.

    My criticism is not of you, but of the warped perspective that Israel has.

    By Blogger Joe Schick, at 1:47 PM  

  • I agree Joe. The end result is that the Governments actions over the course of time - the failure to drop the hammer on the Palestinians each and every time there was a terrorist act, has indeed changed the perspective. That is sad and true.

    I do regret my choice of words re: "occupied territory" I actually meant occupied by THEM, not us.

    By Blogger Elster, at 2:28 PM  

  • prayers are never meaningless

    By Anonymous iamokayasanonymous, at 5:19 PM  

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