20 Jan Yom Hazikaron: For those who gave their lives that others might live, not die.
“I could not help but compare the messages so radically different between the Jewish message regarding a child’s death and the Muslim messenger regarding those who die in battle.”
Rabbi Victor Weissberg
These are thoughts written on Mother’s Day. As many realize the day was the brain-child of some commercial guru who wanted to boost candy, flower and lingerie sales. However the day took on a much deeper significance because most of us realize that we could never repay all the kindness, love, patience, encouragement, guidance, wisdom, laughter, and on and on which our dear mothers showered so selflessly upon us.
This year however Mother’s Day coincided with Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial of all those who died in defense of Israel and/or as victims of terror or hatred. My wife prevailed upon me to attend the commemoration which was conducted with reverence and respect. I was deeply moved especially in view of the confluence of Mother’s Day and all the news concerning Osama in Laden. I could not help but compare the messages so radically different between the Jewish message regarding a child’s death and the Muslim messenger regarding those who die in battle.
We have seen pictures and heard these messages. They seem diametrically opposed. One is a theological message preceding from faith and one is a philosophical message without assumptions and asserting only what reason requires. Parents may declare their children martyrs who merit some virtuous afterlife for all the hurt and terror they have inflicted upon innocents. Their preconceptions may describe an afterlife replete with sexual favors for acts that leave a bitter taste and mounting enmity in the survivors of such destruction. But I believe that reason dictates a deeper understanding of the sacrifices of young men and women, yes even of children and the elderly for a far more reasonable cause. For those we mourned on Israel’s Memorial Day gave their lives that others might live and not die. They gave their sacred future that the Jewish people might continue to give hope to humanity in this life.
This sacrifice is not an expenditure of intellectual energy to defend some doctrine about God or some belief about that which only the imagination can confirm. Rather the sacrifice of Jewish men, women, and children is a reasoned response to the command to sanctify our lives as a people and as individuals. The achievements of the Jewish People, in spite of terror and threat; in spite of hatred and fulmination, in spite of the loss of cherished loved ones and in defense of a dream and to insure the continued reality of bringing blessing to mankind is borne out by the contributions of those who mourn the loss and have surmounted their grief to continue in music, poetry, literature, medicine science, agriculture to lift the spirit, heal the wounds and advance the fortunes of multitudes beyond Israel’s narrow borders.
I, for one, did not cheer the death of an enemy, but I shall rejoice if many who now cower can walk without fear at the terrorist’s demise.. And I who mourn my countless brothers and sisters am humiliated by their sacrifice and inspired by their devotion. I am lonely but not alone in their physical absence and I am moved to live and help others live so that the elderly can proudly live in peace, children can play without trepidation, and the future be better because Israel overcomes its mourning and blesses each new mourning with creative vigor and renewed vision.
May those who we mourn live in us and may this earth so long savaged and held hostage be free and loving.