Simchat Torah War Day 6

A relatively quiet day. A few rockets in the center of country. A chaotic scene at the airport as thousands of people try to get out. Troops and tanks massing at the border. Everyone waiting for the inevitable ground invasion to begin.

An emergency government has been formed, headed by Netanyahu with a war cabinet consisting of him, Defense Minister Gallant, and Benny Gantz, with another member of Gantz’s party as an “observer.” I feel a little better with Gantz involved, and the right wing nut jobs cut out of the war decisions, but what a mess. Polls show Israelis overwhelmingly blame the government for the mess we are in.

I was feeling very sad today as I drove one of my daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids to the airport this morning. Last night my son-in-law said, “we might not ever come back.” Well, maybe after a few years of real peace, who knows. But I can understand that sentiment.

Today was spent reorganizing travel plans. We had reservations to fly to Athens next week on Tuesday; the plan was for Susy to fly on to the US on Friday, and I would fly back here. We now have an opportunity to go to Rome tomorrow, so we’re in the middle of switching things. I’ll come back to Israel on Tuesday.

Today things were feeling eerily like the first time I came to Israel in December, 1978, on an El Al flight from Tehran. The airport was chaotic. Jews were rushing to get out. But I was just going somewhere on vacation. I went back to Iran after three weeks in Israel, only to be evacuated in February.

I found myself struggling with the traditional words of prayer this morning, so I wrote one of my own:

Ribono shel Olam
Master of the Universe!
Our hearts are shattered
Evil is on the loose
And again the victims are Your people
B’nai Yisrael
Men, women, children, infants
Murdered, raped, abused
Not since the Shoah
Not since the pogroms
Not since the Crusades
Have Your children been slaughtered this way
This time is different
We have an army
We can and will defend ourselves
El Harachaman
Compassionate God
Bring healing to the injured
Comfort to the mourners
El Hamilchama
God of War
Strengthen the hands of our soldiers
As they go to battle to combat evil
To free our brothers and sisters
To eradicate the viper’s nest
Tzur Yisrael
Rock of Israel
Grant our leaders
The wisdom and the resolve
To bring us from darkness to light
Strengthen all of us 
So that we can find ways to help
Keep us safe from all harm

–the picture is of the shuk in the Old City, eerily empty.

Barry Leff

Rabbi Barry (Baruch) Leff is a dual Israeli-American business executive, teacher, speaker and writer who divides his time between Israel and the US.

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