By Rabbi Daniel H. Mehlman
I pen this with an anguished heart, a confused mind, and a great sense of pain and empathy for our sisters and brothers in our glorious State of Israel. I have been speaking with dear friends in Israel and they tell me of the funerals of young soldiers they attend, הי״ד, and of those young, beautiful boys severely injured, fighting for their lives.
Rabbi Yehudah Halevy wrote, “לבי במזרח. . . Though my body is far removed from the Holy Land, though oceans and continents divide us, לבי, my heart and soul, is in the East, in Israel.”
There are times when a person finds he is “distant” (physically) from someplace, as we are with the State of Israel at this crucial time. However, we still maintain a closeness and proximity to the place we love and admire, Artzeinu HaKedoshah.
The beauty of a Jew is his relationship to other Jews and his involvement with Medinat Yisrael. We are convinced, more and more, as we see what is taking place throughout our world vis-à-vis their attitude to Israel and the Jewish people, in general, that without our Jewish state we would be null and void. True, our Torah holds us together, but it is only our Jewish state that gives us a place of security and well-being that we cannot find anyplace else.
To paraphrase the words of Moshe, לא אוכל לבדי שאת. I hear the State of Israel saying to all of us, לא אוכל לבדי, don’t leave us alone. Empathize with us, and give us your assurance and encouragement to help us survive. Speak up for us to your governments and to all people of influence that Israel needs to survive, for the sake of all humanity.
When the FAA prohibited flights to Ben-Gurion airport, how proud I was when I saw Mayor Bloomberg stand up and show the world that he is flying to Israel, not on his private jet, but on El Al Airlines. No one has the right to close an airport of a sovereign and free state. Kol ha’kavod, Mayor Bloomberg. You are truly a righteous Jew, and we pay homage to your dedication and commitment to the State of Israel.
Hear me well, world: Jews are here to stay. We will not be discarded to the heap of oblivion. And as we survive, we will do so in our own land, and no one will take it from us—and you’d better get used to this, for we are eternal, as our G‑d is eternal.
I recall the story of Samuel Johnson, who would spend a lot of time in the company of Oliver Goldsmith, the famous author. One day, as Johnson was striding along the streets of London with little Goldsmith alongside, trying hard to keep up with him, Johnson asked his friend, “Goldie, do you see that man across the street? I hate him.”
“But Johnson,” protested Goldsmith, “you don’t even know the man!”
“That’s why I hate him, Goldie; that’s why I hate him. If I knew him, I might love him.”
If only the world would begin to realize that Israel is not the enemy. If only the world would begin to realize that we are truly the friends of the free world, maybe, just maybe, they would begin to love us and see who the true enemy really is. Alas, hatred is so inborn in so many that the truth cannot be recognized. But we will continue to strive for the truth, and then we will experience the Messianic period that we have been waiting for. Until that day comes, we will continue to encourage the people of Israel to do all they can do for their survival and never to permit themselves to be dictated to by other countries who think they know what is best for the Jewish state.
We will raise our voices in harmony to our State Department and to our president and let them know that we expect them to back their ally to the fullest to bring about the end of hostility in the region and bring security and peace to our homeland.
May our tefillot soar heavenward to reach the Kisei HaKavod, and may Hashem see the achdut of Am Yisrael at this devastating hour to end this horrific war so that the citizens of Israel can live in shalom—ה׳ יברך את עמו בשלום. Am Yisrael Chai! ϖ
Rabbi Mehlman is rabbi emeritus of the Lido Beach Synagogue.