September 2018: The beautiful, agonising challenge of living in Israel.
Tonight, Tuesday 18th September 2018, the fast of Yom Kippur will commence. Known in English as the day of Atonement, Israel shuts down. You will not see cars on the road. Businesses are closed. Restaurants are shut. Complete tranquility, as the country – at least traditional and observant Jews – dedicate themselves to prayer.
(To put the biblical instruction in terms of 2018, millions learn how to put aside Whattsapp for 25 hours).
Sunday morning, roughly 48 hours previous to my writing this text, Rabbi Ari Fuld was out shopping near the town of Efrat, located between Bethlehem and Hebron. Many around the world know this region as the West Bank (of the Jordan River).
Fuld was stabbed in the back by a 16 year old, Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin, from a village south of Hebron. There is a video of Fuld trying to chase the youth and taking a shot at him, before collapsing. I know the medic who tried to treat Fuld on the spot. He described to me the gapping hole in the rabbi’s back. He was declared dead shortly after arrival at the hospital.
The youth was remanded in an Israeli hospital, where he was treated for a mild flesh wound to his hand. His initial “court appearance” was conducted around his bed. The Palestinian Authority (PA) will pay his family about US$400 every month for three years. As the Palestinian ambassador to the UK effectively admitted on a talk-in last week, such funds are available due to the generosity and financial support from European and other governments towards the PA.
The supporters of the Palestinian cause have blasted social media with the argument that Fuld was an armed settler, and thus he was a legitimate target. I suppose the logic of that argument is that if you disagree with somebody’s politics, you can slay them in cold blood.
I guess that mix of hatred justifies 9/11 in the USA, 7/7 in London, Spanish train bombings et al. It is noticeable the many of the proponents of such views hang out with anti-semites. They imply that Jews are a fifth column in their country of living. More hatred, which is rarely found in societies looking to cerate individual growth and development.
What would such people say if a dear and beloved one was randomly slain in the name of a political movement? Would that also become acceptable?
As for the victim, I saw a post from a friend of mine, David Olesker.
In the last week a righteous man, whose public works are known to many, was murdered. Our Sages say that the death of the righteous (especially those who die sanctifying G-d’s name) is an atonement for the generation.
I can’t help but feel that, despite the countless merits of the acts Ari Fuld did in public, his true righteousness probably lay in his private life, known to his family and those closest to him. There are doubtless others, who are not known to the wider world, who stand beside him today, before the Throne of Mercy, where they will plead for their people on the day when we are all judged.
These advocates will not make us ashamed, let us not make them ashamed!
The scenery at this time of year in Israel is exquisite. On the Day of Atonement, Jews pray to be sealed in the Book of Life. I wish everyone – yes, everyone – a healthy, prosperous year ahead. It should be a year full of self-fulfillment and mutual opportunities.