Wednesday, October 20, 2010

On The Fifteenth Anniversary of the Murder of Yitzchak Rabin z’l

Today, Wednesday, October 20, 2010 is the fifteenth anniversary of the death, murder really, of Yitzchak Rabin, may his memory be a blessing for us all. I say FOR US ALL because it is irrelevant whether we agreed or disagreed with his politics. He was a man of peace who was trying to achieve this impossible goal in the best way he could. I was reminded of this sad memorial by my good friend, Esther this morning. We were discussing this as we drove together to work and she further told me that in Israel there is a lot of energy being expended on trying to stop observance of this anniversary, claiming that enough time has passed and it is the moment to move on. But wait! Who, I asked, is behind this? Using the old standard of lawyers that say you should know the answer to the questions you ask, I received the expected response – a lot of very religious people want us to take this annual reminder off the calendar.

Reminder of what, we must then ask! I remember that day very well. It was Motzei Shabbat and my father-in-law respectfully waited until we had said Havdalah and then called and told us to turn on the television. Yitzchak Rabin had been murdered! Needless to say we were all horrified! This was definitely one of those moments that as we recall, I remember exactly who was with us, where we were and what we were doing. As so much of the world was doing already, we then depended on the television as our life line and informant regarding what exactly had happened. Then the horrible story and its details unfolded.

Yigal Amir, an Orthodox University and Yeshiva student who claimed that his Rebbes taught him that Yitzchak Rabin was a “rodef chayim,” that is, a threat to Jewish life, as a seeker and crafter of peace with Arab and Palestinian neighbors and residents, felt that he was given permission (even asked to) murder this danger to society! Amongst all of the tears and horror that followed, there quickly ensued a barrage of statements, letters and writings from within the Orthodox world about how we have to be careful how we use our words, thus observing the just as strict laws (as many other things) of Shmirat HaLashon! There was a genuine Heshbon HaNefesh, a taking account of one’s actions and motivations, for….. of, about a couple of weeks, as well as distancing from what this one young man took into his own hands to accomplish. Then life went back to normal and the diatribes and overstatements continued, as if nothing had happened. Everyone was back at each other’s throats, accusing, yelling and defaming!

The reality is that we live in an increasingly dangerous and scary world, inside our communities as well as outside. The hatred amongst different as well as within various religious groupings is truly cause for great concern about our viability as a future society who will ever achieve any modicum of peace. The lack of care that is shown in words that we use never fails to startle and disappoint me in a most profound way. From where I sit, WE NEED THIS ANNUAL REMINDER DESPARATELY regarding the words we speak and the effect they have on those who hear them.

How many of us think that in using the language we choose, we might be screaming and inciting the hatred of the next Yigal Amir? For this reason, if for no other (even though clearly there are many), this anniversary MUST CONTINUE TO BE OBSERVED by all of us in the Jewish community and beyond!

1 comment:

  1. Totally agreed! The dialogue over the past decade and a half has become extremely polarized and i imagine that shift has a lot to do with the lack of leaders who are seeking some sort of middle ground. All the hope Rabin was able to garner has completely dissipated and that seems to be reflective of a larger polarization going on in both American politics and the general Jewish world. It is truly disheartening that as time has progressed, we as a national and religious community have regressed.

    I think that answer to these issues can only be found in innovative leaders willing to create their own definitions and boxes without needing to pander to the insufficient ones that already exist.