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  KD MAGAZINE!         ב"ה              
 
 
     
 

Despair is Not
a Jewish Word

By Rabbi Shea Hecht

RABBI SHEA HECHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Despair is not a word in the Jewish vocabulary.

Nonetheless, two recent stories about Gush Katif and the Gaza disengagement brought me close to tears of despair. What's even more frustrating than the facts themselves is the deafening sound of silence that these two situations brought about.

According to an article by Hillel Fendel, titled, "Gush Katif Prayer Books Found Strewn About," holy prayer books and Sifrei Torah were removed from destroyed Gush Katif synagogues and there was no uproar. The sacred items were left desecrated and unwanted for three years and we didn't hear a sound. The books were thrown into crates and ignored and it didn't even make the news - not the destruction of the buildings themselves nor the neglect of the holy books.

Over the past year Gush Katif residents requested countless times that the Sela Disengagement Administration and representatives of the Department of Religious Affairs allow them to get to the storehouses and they were denied. It turned out that the problem was that Sela hadn't paid the owners of the storehouses and so the owners wouldn't let anyone in.

By the time the crates were accessed by some expelled residents of Gush Katif they almost cried at what they saw. 

"When we arrived, we were horrified to see the Desecration of G-d's Name that was there," said Aviel Tucker of the former town of Netzer Hazani. "Sacred books were strewn about on the floor and in undignified piles, with bird droppings all over them.  It was tremendously sad for us to see pieces of our beautiful synagogue - parts of the Holy Ark, benches, and memorial plaques - strewn about with abandon or worse."

"We felt that we were sharing the same fate," Aviel said. "Not only have we, the residents, been humiliated and expelled in disgrace, but also the sacred books and G-d's Name."

Something tells me that if it was Mosques that were destroyed and Korans that were desecrated, the media would be hovering over this story like a mother bird over her young. An immediate outcry from many different circles would have called attention to the dire situation and money would have been raised to get the storehouses open to save the holy books from desecration.

In fact, just a short while ago I was interviewed on Arutz Sheva, Israel's national radio about the dangers of missionaries and cults to the spiritual welfare of Jews in Israel and around the world.

The incident that brought the interview was an uproar in Israel over 'religious' books that were desecrated.  When missionaries in Israel gave out unasked for, unwanted new testaments as part of their mission to proselytize Jews and lure them away from their religion, inhabitants of an Israeli town took the books and burned them. The Israeli police took it upon themselves to look into the incident and to consider pressing charges against the Jews who tried to protect their brethren from those who dirty Israel's streets with their missionary filth trying to 'save' Jewish souls. They were looking into prison time for those who destroyed 'holy books' belonging to missionaries. Yet Jewish books can be neglected and no one says a word?

The double standard of care and concern for the religious objects of other nationalities and other religions while neglecting those of the Jewish faith bothers me.

The icing on the cake of this disengagement fiasco is an article from Ynet News stating that Hamas no longer has to smuggle weapons into the Gaza, because weapon smuggling into Gaza is a professional, state-run business, sponsored by Iran. Tehran sees Hamas as a long-term investment - much like Hizbullah.

In fact, since the Gaza pullout in 2005, more than 120 tons of explosives have made their way into the Gaza Strip. This is an astronomical quantity for a military organization which has only a few thousand people who can operate weapons.

When Israel abandoned the Gaza Strip did they dream they would be setting the stage for a massive military terror base right in their back yard?

And where is the public outcry over the build up of weapons that are used daily on the hapless Israeli residents?

Tisha B'Av is around the corner. It's a time that we cry over the destruction that was wrought to our nation, a time that we say 'Al Eilah Ani Vochiyah' - 'For these I cry.'

The destruction of Gush Katif and the degradation its residents is one more thing for us to cry about; as much as it hurts, we cannot despair. For despair is not a Jewish word. 

Rabbi Shea Hecht is the Chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education . His web site is: www.sheahecht.com

 
   
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