There was a video going around yesterday – people warned me that it was gruesome – but I was en route to a speaking engagement and wasn’t really paying attention. Before I boarded the plane, I quickly checked Facebook and the video started playing on my feed. I saw a car ram into people. A body, dressed in black, flew into the air. A couple girls scrambled for cover. Then I watched the maniacal driver leap out of the car and finish off his “work,” with a butcher knife.
I inadvertently witnessed a murder and felt physically sick. I didn’t want to get on the plane. I just wanted to cry – to completely lose it in the middle of the airport. What was happening to my people, thousands of miles away? How could I do anything that wasn’t directly related to helping them? I kept myself composed and boarded the plane because it was the responsible thing to do. It was packed. I found my seat towards the back and noticed that the man in the seat next to me looked very Middle Eastern. I normally don’t notice race, in fact I was embarrassed that I had, but I was feeling on edge. A friend called as I sat down, and I tried explaining what I had just witnessed in as vague a way as possible. I could see that the man was listening with great interest. “Oh, no,” I thought, “What if this ride becomes hostile?”
Then he began to speak. “Do you know if der is wifi?” he asked, in what sounded like a familiar accent. I responded politely, still feeling nervous and a bit paranoid. I looked down at his phone and tears filled my eyes – there were Hebrew letters on it. “Oh, Hashem,” I thought, “Just as I am wondering where You are, how You could let such terror senselessly reign on my family, You place me exactly where I need to be.”
With a smile, I turned to my neighbor and asked,“M’efo atah b’aretz?” (Where are you from in Israel?) Then the two of us began chatting. I showed him the video. He too was devastated. For the next hour we spoke of our frustration and fears our hopes and our prayers for peace. We both had family in Israel and we were worried sick about them. By the end of the plane ride, I was no longer shaking.
As we parted ways and we wished each other well I asked him, “Oh, by the way, what’s your name?”
“Israel,” he replied.
“Of course it is,” I thought as I smiled to myself.
Below some our readers share their moments of hope in the midst of terror.
Today, my wife took a cab to work, as they have become safer measure than busses. The very bus line she generally takes to work everyday was boarded by terrorists this morning who shot and stabbed multiple passengers before they were eliminated. And then again, another attack right near her office only an hour or so later. Yesterday there was a stabbing just outside my office in Binyan Klal, and panic ensued as there was confusion if the terrorist had run into my office building in an attempt to escape (or kill a few more). Ironically my building is the headquarters for the Israeli police in the area. Talk about bad karma… Needless to say the terrorist did not make it very far.
This stuff is as real as it gets – everyone on edge and the tension is palpable. It does remind me that Yaakov only received the title“Yisrael” after he had to physically fight and endanger himself to protect his family against the malach (angel) of Eisav (Esau). Bottom line – even after his many years of righteousness and Torah learning, only when he put himself on the line for others did he receive the title Yisrael. It is a name we are lucky to be born with.
But make no mistake – it is a title to be earned.
Today I feel like we here in Israel, on the ground, are earning that title. To live in fear and still feel that there is no where else on earth we’d rather be. If our people are going to suffer, then so are we. And we’ll do it with strength and honor because ultimately it is our relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu that makes us the target.
And that’s something we won’t give up for anything in the world.
There’s this tremendous unity you feel in the street. The air is thick with love and danger and all sorts of emotions. I worry for the safety of my people and its a crazy reality. My son asked me if he should take the metal pole he found on the street to school. With that said there is nowhere else that I would rather be. We are home and Hashem is with us always. May this be an era of repentance and redemption.
I have to write this. I tried not to. I tried to stay off of Facebook. I tried not to read the news. It’s just not working anymore. Today I switched my kids room so they would be sleeping in the protected “safe” room because I know there will be a war soon.
For people who are in America and across the world and might not be Jewish or connected, you have no clue what is going on in Israel right now. People are being murdered and stabbed and run over and shot in the streets by absolutely crazed Arab terrorists. I say Arab because they are not necessarily Palestinian as they hold Israeli citizenship. They work and live and benefit from the semi-socialist society that is Israel. They will stab someone or run someone over with their car and shoot them and then when they are stopped and inevitably injured, they are transferred to the best Israeli hospitals for care. I’m not even sure what the attack count is up to but I think it is over 30 in the past week.
I’m not posting this because I think you need to know in a general sense or that I think the world at large needs to come to our rescue. I am posting this because I want you to pray. God is there and hears everything even if you believe in it or not. If you have any semblance of faith in you please say a prayer for the people of the Middle East.
And I’m really sorry to my family in America but I’m not leaving Israel. I love this place more than I can express in words and it is where I feel the most safe and most at home, even in times like these. Maybe especially in times like these.