While they were sleeping

This is cross posted by the blog, West Bank to West End

Sometimes friends and strangers consult me about child-rearing. I often give the advice not to make important decisions when you’re angry, you’ll be likely to regret them. The same goes for marriage and many other areas of life.

I’m angry today, because a family was slaughtered. I’m furious because someone who breathes the same air as I do butchered two children and a baby with his knife. Today I am not rational and I can’t reason. Every fibre of my being wants to be left alone with the creature who murdered a baby. I care not if he is defenceless. Let him wave a white flag and I’ll redden it with blood. Maybe he has already won because he’s caused me to think as he does. I always said that they’d never defeat me until they caused me to hate them. Today I’m angry so don’t talk to me about a Palestinian state. Don’t ask me to compromise or understand the suffering of my enemies. Perhaps that is one more reason why Jews are made to sit and mourn for seven days after a death, cut off from the important decisions of life.

Today I need to mourn five people I never knew. I need to look at my own family, my four children and think unthinkable, unrepeatable thoughts. Tonight I must argue with my Maker once again and ask him why.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and recite the morning prayer Modeh Ani, thanking Him for returning me my soul with compassion. Maybe I’ll read again the story of the Ten Martyrs. For the hundredth time I’ll reach the moment when Rabbi Yishmael is being burned alive. When the fire reached the place on his head where he would put his tefillin and he knew he would never wear them again the shrieked to the Moulder of his soul. Angels cried out to G-d, “Is this the Torah? Is this its reward?” I’ll cry again as a heavenly voice responded, “If I hear another sound, I will transform the universe to water! I will turn the earth to astonishing emptiness!”

I’ll sit in my garden over mint tea and debate with friends about a Talmudic ox that was stolen a thousand years ago. Someone must pay for it. Slowly reason will take the place of passion once more. I’ll remind myself that we are the most fortunate generation of the Nation of Israel since the time of Moses. Every day we live a life that our grandparents and their grandparents could only dream of and pray for. No murderer with a knife will take that away. Slowly the anger will pass. I’ll stop hating them, and already I’ll have won.

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