Thursday, June 29, 2006

O' God, can I not save one from the pitiless wave?

So they killed him.

Eliyahu Asheri is dead.

He's my age. He's one year older than me. He had done nothing to them except exist. But they kidnapped him and they killed him. And now he is dead, at 18, he is dead.

So tell me, God, where is your justice? Where is your mercy? What are you doing? Allow me to divine your thoughts. Show me your face, that is what was once demanded. Shall we demand it again? And to what end?

They are despicable creatures, but they are men, so where is their humanity? How can they deny the pleading mothers, the fathers, and don't their hearts bleed, as ours do? What are they, these men? Are they made of stone?

Of course we blame them, cruel murderers that they are, but how do you allow it? How do you allow them to kill your people?

"Judaism, in contradistinction to mystical quietism, which recommended toleration of pain, wants man to cry out aloud against any kind of pain, to react indignantly to all kinds of injustice or unfairness. For Judaism held that the individual who displays indifference to pain and suffering, who meekly reconciles himself to the ugly, disproportionate and unjust in life, is not capable of appreciating beauty and goodness. Whoever permits his legitimate needs to go unsatisfied will never be sympathetic to the crying needs of others. A human morality based on love and friendship, on sharing in the travail of others, cannot be practiced if the person's own need-awareness is dull and he does not know what suffering is. Hence Judaism rejected models of existence which deny human need, such as the angelic or the monastic. For Judaism, need-awareness constitutes part of the definition of human existence. Need-awareness turns into a passional experience, into a suffering awareness. Dolorem ferre ergo sum- I suffer, therefore I am.- to paraphrase Descartes' cogito ergo sum. While the Cartesian cogito would also apply to an angel or even to the devil, our inference is limited to man: neither angel nor devil know suffering.

Therefore, prayer in Judaism, unlike the prayer of classical mysticism, is bound up with the human needs, wants, drives and urges, which make man suffer. Prayer is the doctrine of human needs. Prayer tells the individual , as well as the community, what his, or its, genuine needs are, what he should, or should not, petition God about........Prayer and tzara are inseperably linked. Who prays? Only the sufferer prays. If man does not find himself in narrow straits, if he is not troubled by anything, if he knows not what tzara is, then he need not pray. Toa happy man, to contented man, the secret of prayer was not revealed. God needs neither thanks nor hymns. He wants to hear the outcry of man, confronted with a ruthless reality. He expects prayer to rise from a suffering world cognizant of its genuine needs. In short, through prayer man finds himself. Prayer enlightens man about his needs. It tells man the story of his hidden hopes and expectations. It teaches him how to behold the vision and how to strive in order to realize this vision, when to be satisfied with what one possesses, when to reach out for more. In a word, man finds his need-awareness, himself, in prayer. Of course, the very instant he finds himself, he becomes a redeemed being."

-Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Gilad Shalit

Are you thinking about Nachshon Waxman?

I think we all are.

But that's not what I want to think about, because that's not how I want this to end. I want Gilad Shalit to be released, to be freed, to survive. Or I want Israel to rescue him.

And I have to wonder about him. I wonder what he's thinking about. Would they show him the newspapers, sneer at him, laugh in his face by demonstrating how desperate the world is to find him? Or would they keep him in darkness, so that he doesn't know what the Israelis doing or how anyone feels about him?

Is he worried that his country will sacrifice something sacred in return for him? Or is he worried that they will not, and that instead he will die?

What does he think about as he sits or stands wherever he may be? Is it defiance, resistance, that kindles in his heart, or is it despair?

I do not know, and I will not know.

This is my prayer for Gilad Shalit-

Dear Gilad,

Know that you are loved. Know that we are all hoping for you, praying for you, and wishing for you to come out of this alive and well. If you are hurt, we want you to be healed. We hope they are feeding you; we hope you are not hungry. But if you are hungry, we will all give you food.

There must be so many thoughts running through your mind. Everything from anger to despair to hatred to worry about your parents and your family. I hope that all these thoughts come to a peaceful end. I hope, most of all, that they are telling the truth, and that you are still alive.

Gilad, know that there are people all over the world concerned about you. It may not do you much good- you would much prefer a rescue team than all the concern in the world, at this moment in time. But know that we are with you to support you and to hold you up.

I want to pass on to you the holiest blessing in our litany, the blessing that my teachers gave me and that is given to us on our holidays:

"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee; The LORD make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; The LORD lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." Numbers 6, 24-26

May He protect you from harm.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

May God bless you and keep you

If there were a link to the real version, I'd have put that up, but as it simply is.