It’s hard to believe that just two short weeks ago the state of Israel was filled with joy and celebration inspired by the Jewish holidays of Sukkot
and Simchat Torah
and the long-anticipated homecoming of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit
In stark contrast to the festivity, this past week school closures have been in effect for 200,000 children, and residents have been instructed to stay close to bomb shelters because of the scores of rockets fired at southern Israel since last Saturday by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza
A resident of Ashkelon, 56-year-old Moshe Ami, was killed after he sustained serious shrapnel wounds, and thirty other residents were injured in the attacks. Rockets damaged numerous buildings, including one school, which thank God was empty at the time.
To add insult to injury, earlier this week the United Nations’ cultural agency, UNESCO, voted to grant the Palestinians full member status. Soon after, Palestinian leaders announced that they would be seeking membership in an additional 16 U.N. agencies as part of their ongoing bid to be recognized as a state.
This is the way it has often been for Israelis throughout our long and dramatic history seasons of joy and seasons of pain so closely interspersed. Years of harsh slavery under the Egyptians, then a miraculous rescue orchestrated by God Himself. The horrors of the Holocaust, then the glorious re-establishment of the Jewish state.
I am reminded of the passage in Ecclesiastes 3
that wisely instructs us that there “is a time for everything”
(v. 1) — “a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build up, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”
Right now we weep with the family of Moshe Ami and we mourn at the United Nations’ continued harsh anti-Israel bias. But we do this weeping and mourning as a people who know that laughing and dancing will return and, most of all, that our God is still in control.
So we keep our eyes fixed on Him during these days of danger and grief, praying for and anticipating our promised “time for peace.”
With prayers for shalom
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein