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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Defend Israel, just don't kill anyone in the process


Megillah 16

Today's Life Yomi is dedicated in honour of the yortzeit of Yitzchak ben Chaim Yaakov (Mishkinsky) Ivry by his children, Yosef David and Sylvia Joar Ivry.

We find ourselves currently in the midst of a terrible war with Hamas in Gaza.  In the international opinion arena, Israel is being attacked from all sides.  Nations are condemning, world media is lopsidedly reporting and in some places, it has become unsafe for the local Jewish community.

And yet when you ask the man on the street, ‘what would you do if your country was being fired upon?’ they unhesitatingly respond that of course they would counter-attack!  How is such hypocrisy possible?

The Megillah states: The King said to Queen Esther, “In Shushan, the capital, the Jews have killed and wiped out five hundred people and the ten sons of Haman.  What must they have done in all the other provinces of the king?!  What is your petition now?  It shall be granted to you.   What is your further request?  It shall be one.”

Rashi asks: What is the meaning of this verse?  It begins with Ahasuerus talking ill of the Jewish people’s activity.  And then he continues with an offer to grant Esther her wishes!

Rabbi Abahu taught: This verse teaches us that an angel came and slapped his face, forcing him to change the malicious way he was speaking.

Ahasuerus had granted permission to Esther and Mordechai for the Jews to defend themselves from the anti-Semitic pogroms that Haman had initiated.  And yet that did not stop him condemning the casualties inflicted by our people upon those who were seeking to destroy us! 

When he first issued the decree of the annihilation of the entire Jewish people, that would have meant millions of innocent lives lost.  Such numbers were inconsequential to him – he had engaged in many wars and his armies had murdered many innocents.   But when it came to our self-defense, suddenly he was alarmed at the number of fatalities!  And the angel had to come down and set him straight.

Such is the way of the nations of the world.  We are judged by double-standards.  They would never allow rockets to terrorize their population day in day out.  Their response would be swift, forceful and permanent, such that the enemy would never be able to threaten them ever again in the future.

But when it comes to the State of Israel, most agree that Israel had to respond, but they do not cease to attack the measure of our response.  Israel is the most humane army in the world – dropping leaflets from the sky and leaving voice-messages on phones warning the people to evacuate their homes prior to an attack!  Who else would do such a crazy thing?  Any other army would orchestrate a surprise attack, they wouldn’t warn their foes! 

Israel does its very best to protect innocent lives, to limit collateral damage.  But as the Megillah has shown, no matter what we do, the anti-Semites of the world will always seek to condemn us.    

May the Almighty grant us an everlasting peace in the Holy Land and may He bring our boys and girls home safe from the battleground where they are doing their very best to protect human life on all sides.

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