Sunday, August 21, 2005

Pride and Trepidation

Happily, House of Joy has "come out of hiding" (enabled her comments), though her formerly pink blog is still black. Interesting post here, where Beth addresses Lisoosh's comment to one of my own posts, about the Dati Leumi (national religious) Israelis. (I hope to address the comment myself one day, but the topic is so huge, I need to compose my thoughts first.)

Although we are good friends, I don't always agree with Beth about every little thing. But as usual she offers some important thoughts to chew on:

The Torah explains . . . . that the Land cannot tolerate certain things and that if we as a nation do not behave in the correct way, the land will spit us out. The Land of Israel, according to the Bible is not just dirt and rocks and water, it is in some way a living breathing entity – and it is sensitive.

From a secular perspective, I understand why one might support disengagement as a first step to the creation of a Palestinian State (see the comments section in Chayyei Sarah for a very well presented argument by my friend With Love– who incidentally is not secular). I hear the arguments. Intellectuals the world over hear the arguments. We are the oppressors. The Palestinans are the oppressed. As a moral nation, we need to fix that. We need to protect ourselves the best way that we can but we need to fix it.

From a religious perspective, these arguments are not relevant. The Palestinian problem is not a problem of politics. It is a problem of G-d and the Jewish people. And the way to fix it is not through a New State – it is through working on ourselves as a Nation.

Personally, I see the Gaza expulsion not as a failure of “Zionism” but as a failure of religion and a failure of the Jewish people as a whole. People are turning inward and trying to figure out where to turn lest G-d (chaz v’shalom a million times) decides we are not worthy of being in this land at all and things continue to get worse.

I go to a class on the Torah Portion of the Week on Shabbat. This Shabbat, it was impossible not to say something about what happened in Gush Katif. Rebbetzin Botchko, who gave this week’s class, said that what she has come out of the Gaza expulsion learning is that the Religious Zionists have failed in loving their brethren enough. And perhaps what we need to do is really go out and try to create unity and love among the Jewish people. I’m not sure that is the answer but it wouldn’t hurt.

In light of that post, especially the last few lines, I was struck and moved by this news snippet, from Reuters via Yahoo's news service:

Israel completes evacuation of Gaza settler bloc

Reuters - 1 hour, 22 minutes ago

KATIF, Gaza Strip - Israel completed the evacuation of its main settlement bloc in occupied Gaza on Sunday as settlers set aside confrontation in favor of prayer with troops sent to remove them. Synagogues, bastions of resistance in settlements emptied last week, became gathering points for the peaceful departure of dozens of families from territory Israel captured 38 years ago and which Palestinians want for a state. Israeli troops cleared out the settlements of Atzmona, Katif and Slav on Sunday, the last remaining inhabited settlements in a sprawling cluster in southern Gaza known as Gush Katif.

It both warms and frightens me, the idea of Jewish towns being evacuated, and doing so not just peacefully but by engaging in prayer with the troops. Somehow this 6-line news item encapsulates for me everything that is beautiful and sad about the Gaza pullout. It gives me hope that we'll move forward with love and peace and creativity and our hearts in the right places -- with God and with each other. But it also makes me, for reasons I cannot explain, think of these lines from the prayer services of Yom Kippur, said individually by the cantor (translation by Artscroll):

Here I am, impoverished of deeds, trembling and frightened from the dread of Him Who is enthroned upon the praises of Israel. I have come to stand and supplicate before You for Your people Israel, who have sent me, although I am unworthy and unqualified to do so. Therefore I plead of You, O God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, Hashem, Hashem, God, Compassionate and Gracious, God of Israel, Frightening and Awesome One, grant success to the way upon which I go, standing to plead for mercy upon myself and upon those who sent me . . .

May it be Your will, Hashem, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the great, mighty, and awesome God, [Who calls Himself] "I will be what I will be," that all the angels who bring up my prayers may present my prayer before Your Throne of Glory; may they spread it out before You for the sake of all the righteous, devout, wholesome, and upright people, and for the sake of the glory of Your great and awesome Name. For You hear the prayer of Your people Israel with compassion. Blessed are You, Who hears prayer.

May Hashem answer our prayers for a strong, secure, peaceful State of Israel, and may we become a "light unto the nations" in every way.

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