What daily wisdom is there in the face of the brutal murder of three Israeli teenagers – the absolute nightmare of every parent? The ever- deepening, never ending disease of terrorism, hatred, and evil and the stark fear of what will happen next makes me want to scream out. I am a proud member of the Jewish tribe. When forced to pick a side, Jewish is my side. And so as I watch the funeral of Naftali Frankel, who was 16, Gilad Shaar, who was 16, and Eyal Yifrach who was 19, I am not thinking. I am broken-hearted and angry. I am sad, afraid, and dispirited by the nightmare that is consuming the Jewish people and the Middle East.
We have a broken-Promised Land watered by tears of grief and mourning and fueled by flames of hatred and rage. I listen to the voices and read the words of the myriad players in this seemingly inevitable tragic drama – all are so certain.
Some of us want revenge and others want a calibrated response.
Some of us imagine that force is the only justice and others imagine that compassion is the only answer.
Some of us know we have to kill to stop the killing and some of us only see the recycling of rage and violence.
Some of us think “they” are animals and our killing is different and some think our intent may be different but blood is blood when kids become victims.
Some of us believe that settlements have nothing to do with this conflict and others believe settlements have everything to do with this conflict.
Some of us only see reckless settlers endangering their children and some of us only see murderous terrorists using children as shields.
Some of us believe this is pure evil that must be wiped out and some of us see causes that must be discerned and addressed.
Some of us are keeping score and some of us know more blood will not bring the boys back.
Some of us are certain we can learn to love our enemy and some of us know it is impossible to love a person who wants our demise.
Some of us believe fighting is easy and making peace is complicated and some of us believe making peace is easy and fighting is complicated.
Some of us are getting tired and some of us are getting more ferocious.
And everyone in some way is right.
And the children die. There must be another way but we can’t find it yet. Perhaps the light of the memorial candles will illuminate a path.
Tonight I will hold my children even tighter.
Tomorrow I will wake wounded and afraid but ready to continue to turn curses into blessings.
Tomorrow I will pray to the God I long ago stopped waiting for that we have the courage and prudence, wisdom and compassion to prevent more bloodshed in the weeks to come and to heal the broken places we live in.
May the families of Gilad, Eyal, and Naftali be comforted.
May their memories become blessings.
For Brad Hirschfield’s reflections, please watch his video commentary, Murdered Israeli Students: Life Wins Out Over Death.
Photo from israelnationalnews.com
Irwin Kula is the co-founder and co-executive editor of The Wisdom Daily. A rabbi, Irwin’s writing has been featured in The Huffington Post and the Washington Post. He is the author of Yearnings: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life and a co-editor of The Book of Jewish Sacred Practices. Irwin has appeared on NBC’s The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O’Reilly Factor and PBS Frontline. Irwin also serves as President Emeritus of Clal, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, a leadership training institute, think tank and resource center in New York City.