How disorienting to begin a day hearing of God’s covenant of peace with
the Jewish people and then to hear of bombs falling on Safed and Haifa!
The story of Pinchas started last week in violent fashion. This week,
by contrast and by intentional emphasis, it ends in peace. In breaking
the story into two weekly readings, Torah teaches that we are inheritors
of a tradition of peace. With Israelis again thrust into another
violent confrontation, we cast about for the peaceful ending of our own
story of violence.
As lovers of peace and pursuers of peace, this moment in Israeli history
is particularly discouraging. With Israeli soldiers being kidnapped
along the borders, with terrorist governments in both the Palestinian
Authority and as part of the Lebanese government, it’s hard to know
where we should turn for peace. The newspapers say violence begets
violence. The truth in the heart of Israelis: every choice begets
The rockets falling in Safed and Haifa have killed and wounded dozens
but they are body blows on the peace process. Internally, they weaken
those Israeli voices calling for continued withdrawals from Palestinian
areas because those withdrawals so far have only led to more and
continued violence. Those most committed to peace are discouraged,
disheartened and silent in the face of such conflict.
Externally, those rockets strengthen the terrorists by making them look
heroic. Arab armies have never before struck Haifa. But Hezbollah –
or whoever fired that rocket – did. The people cheer in the streets
even as Lebanese infrastructure is destroyed. They perceive victory in
a symbolic but strategically meaningless act.
I see no answers. I see only problems, violence, and bloodshed. In our
tradition, that is a moment to turn in prayer towards God. For “they
put their trust in chariots and horses, but we trust in God.” For us,
thousands of miles distant, this a moment for prayer.
A Prayer for Israel at this Time
May the God of our ancestors protect and sustain the land of Israel.
May God offer comfort and a sheltering embrace to those held in
captivity. Heal those wounded and they shall be healed. O Healer of
shattered hearts offer comfort to those in mourning.
At this time of violence and hopelessness, we remember that You are a
Redeeming God. Even in the darkest exile of Egypt, the light of Your
hope remained. Shine upon us the light hidden from the beginning of
Creation and help us to see the path that leads to peace and security
for Israel. Bring peace into the hearts of the Arab people so that
they reject and turn away from those who would only bring about more
violence. Enlighten the leaders of Israel with wisdom and insight so
that they can find the answers for which we all, as disciples of Aaron
who loved and pursued peace, seek.
Praised are You, God, Redeemer of Israel.
Rabbi David Booth