The Voice of Jacob, The Hands of Esau
I write this letter from Chicago where I am attending the 100th Anniversary celebration and the National Convention of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Temple Emanuel member, Barry Curtiss-Lusher will soon be installed as the National President of the ADL – a well-deserved honor in which we all can take pride. After the Convention, I will be staying on for a few extra days in order to dedicate the headstone on my father, Sidney Black’s (z”l) grave.
I feel compelled to write and share some thoughts with you about the events which are taking place in Israel and the Gaza strip where, as I’m sure you know, Hamas terrorists have been launching rocket attacks on Southern Israel on a daily basis. Over the past 12 years, more than 12,000 rockets have been launched – instilling fear and uncertainty in the daily lives of innocent civilians within reach of their deadly ordinance. Once again, the State of Israel finds itself in the position of having to defend its borders and its citizens. Once again, world opinion is inevitably condemning the IDF for daring to take action against those who seek to destroy the Jewish State. Make no mistake, the targeting killing of Ahmed Al-Jabari – commander of the Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing – was a powerful message to all those who would seek to use violence to achieve peace. Al-Jabari had enough blood on his hands to justify any actions against him. He was the architect of multiple missile attacks, kidnappings, and terrorist actions that have caused anguish for Israelis for many years. It was Al Jabari who masterminded the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and his comrades in 2006.
Hamas has taken advantage of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in neighboring Egypt to smuggle massive amounts of rockets and other weaponry through the porous border with the Sinai Peninsula. The constant barrage of rocket attacks that have resulted from this increased ordnance could not possibly have been ignored. The fact that it has taken this long for Israel to respond to Hamas’ unmitigated aggression is, in itself a remarkable act of restraint on Israel’s part.
It is difficult for those of us who are not living in Israel to understand what it must be like to know that any second a terrorist rocket could be aimed at our homes. It is difficult to comprehend the agony of those soldiers, pilots and military strategists who are tasked with stopping Hamas’ aggression – knowing that it is quite possible, if not probable that innocent civilians may be harmed due to the deliberate placing of terrorist bases and arms caches in the midst of congested population centers. Those who are responsible for killing innocent Israelis by firing missiles indiscriminately on schools, hospitals and residential centers have no compunction against creating martyrs for their own cause by using their own women, children and civilians as human shields.
In addition, the war against Hamas in not only being waged in the streets of Gaza. A massive anti-Zionist propaganda effort is being launched by those who hate Israel. The airways, newspapers and Internet are being flooded with disinformation. Our task is to remain firm in our support of Israel at this time of trouble. If you have access to Twitter, Facebook or any other social medium, be vocal in your support of the State of Israel, the IDF and Operation Pillar of Defense.
In this week’s Torah portion, Toldot, when Jacob comes to his blind father dressed in Esau’s clothing and covered in sheepskin, Isaac exclaims: “The hands are the hand of Esau, but the voice is the voice of Jacob.” Over the centuries, many commentators have used this phrase to differentiate between those who would use violence to achieve their goals (the hands of Esau) and those who would use words (the voice of Jacob.) Of course, we try to eschew the use of force whenever possible, but there are moments when we have no choice. This is such a time. Let us pray that Israel’s campaign will be swift, successful and will pave the way for an era when rhetoric can replace rockets and peace can prevail.
I look forward to seeing you upon my return. With prayers for peace and wishes for a happy Thanksgiving, Iam…..
Rabbi Joseph R. Black