Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A Siddur In One Hand, A Machine Gun In The Other

So goes a nice letter to the editor in today's Jewish Press:
Some thoughts as I look at your July 27 cover photo of Tisha B’Av services at the Kotel:
1. What a beautiful thing to see all types of Jews davening to Hashem, all united in one mitzvah.
2. What a tragedy that peace is so elusive that an Israeli soldier has to hold a machine gun in one hand while holding a Siddur in another.

I didn't see the picture, but I assume that this is not such a sign that peace is so elusive. Regardless of the level of peace, Israelis have army service for certain years, and losing a gun can get one into real trouble with the army. As such, it would be irresponsible to put down the gun.

The second thing that struck me was a pasuk in Nechemiah about balancing weapons with rebuilding the walls and gates of Jerusalem. Nechemiah 4:
ט וַיְהִי כַּאֲשֶׁר-שָׁמְעוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ, כִּי-נוֹדַע לָנוּ, וַיָּפֶר הָאֱלֹהִים, אֶת-עֲצָתָם; ונשוב (וַנָּשָׁב) כֻּלָּנוּ אֶל-הַחוֹמָה, אִישׁ אֶל-מְלַאכְתּוֹ. 9 And it came to pass, when our enemies heard that it was known unto us, and God had brought their counsel to nought, that we returned all of us to the wall, every one unto his work.
י וַיְהִי מִן-הַיּוֹם הַהוּא, חֲצִי נְעָרַי עֹשִׂים בַּמְּלָאכָה, וְחֶצְיָם מַחֲזִיקִים וְהָרְמָחִים הַמָּגִנִּים, וְהַקְּשָׁתוֹת וְהַשִּׁרְיֹנִים; וְהַשָּׂרִים--אַחֲרֵי, כָּל-בֵּית יְהוּדָה. 10 And it came to pass from that time forth, that half of my servants wrought in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
יא הַבּוֹנִים בַּחוֹמָה וְהַנֹּשְׂאִים בַּסֶּבֶל, עֹמְשִׂים; בְּאַחַת יָדוֹ עֹשֶׂה בַמְּלָאכָה, וְאַחַת מַחֲזֶקֶת הַשָּׁלַח. 11 They that builded the wall and they that bore burdens laded themselves, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other held his weapon;
יב וְהַבּוֹנִים--אִישׁ חַרְבּוֹ אֲסוּרִים עַל-מָתְנָיו, וּבוֹנִים; וְהַתּוֹקֵעַ בַּשּׁוֹפָר, אֶצְלִי. 12 and the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded. And he that sounded the horn was by me.
יג וָאֹמַר אֶל-הַחֹרִים וְאֶל-הַסְּגָנִים, וְאֶל-יֶתֶר הָעָם--הַמְּלָאכָה הַרְבֵּה, וּרְחָבָה; וַאֲנַחְנוּ, נִפְרָדִים עַל-הַחוֹמָה, רְחוֹקִים, אִישׁ מֵאָחִיו. 13 And I said unto the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people: 'The work is great and large, and we are separated upon the wall, one far from another;
יד בִּמְקוֹם, אֲשֶׁר תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶת-קוֹל הַשּׁוֹפָר, שָׁמָּה, תִּקָּבְצוּ אֵלֵינוּ; אֱלֹהֵינוּ, יִלָּחֶם לָנוּ. 14 in what place soever ye hear the sound of the horn, resort ye thither unto us; our God will fight for us.'
טו וַאֲנַחְנוּ, עֹשִׂים בַּמְּלָאכָה; וְחֶצְיָם, מַחֲזִיקִים בָּרְמָחִים, מֵעֲלוֹת הַשַּׁחַר, עַד צֵאת הַכּוֹכָבִים. 15 So we wrought in the work; and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning till the stars appeared.

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