Friday, August 12, 2011

Gush Katif Remembered

The Mishna (Taanit 4:6) lists 5 calamities that struck Jews on Tisha B'Av. Some 500 years ago, also on this day, Jews were banished from Spain.

Then came, on this day, yet another banishment, in ways even more painful. In 2005 (it was scheduled on Tisha B'Av, but actually took place the next day), Jews were brutally evicted from their residences, businesses and properties of Gush Katif. Many were third generation citizens.

You would think a Jewish government would know something about significant Jewish dates. Yet they chose Tisha B'Av to do their dirty work. Jews of Gush Katif were told Tisha B'Av was the final day, by which time they were required to abandon their birthrights.

The 5 calamities the Mishna lists that befell on Tisha B'Av are: The decree to forbid entry to the Holy land for the generation of the desert; The 1st and 2nd Temples were destroyed; The city of Beitar was captured; And, Jerusalem was smashed to rubble after the destruction.

For generations other unfortunate events occurred on Tisha B'Av, the harshest of them being the expulsion from Spain. On August 2, 1492, King Ferdinand of Spain proclaimed that no Jewish foot may remain on Spanish soil.

Then came the recent expulsion from Gush Katif. It's one thing when Gentiles oppress Jews. Jewish law tells us "Esav hates Yaakov", so we can somewhat understand the cruelty committed.

But how can we begin to fathom cruelty when a Jew commits such atrocity to another Jew? Can we compare an eviction of Jews perpetrated by Gentiles in a Gentile nation to one where a Jewish government in a Jewish country does the same to its own people?

What further aggravated this eviction was the handover of the birthrights to Israel's worst enemies - an act so perverted it boggles the mind! And, to add salt to the wound, the birthrights robbed from Jews and handed to the Arabs was meant to resolve a border conflict that had wrought much tension. The proponents of the expulsion so argued. Those against the expulsion knew full well it was a delusion, with a horrible payback. The latter were right because it created what today is a much more dangerous state of affairs, with greater risks to life.

The exile we are in is both a physical exile and a psychological one. As long as Jews see themselves as just another nation, relating to their Judaism as an incidental fact, without taking pride in the vast heritage and delight that Torah and Jewish tradition offer, the exile mentality will persist - and Jews may well fall victim yet again to such aberrant behavior (God forbid!); For Jewish destiny cannot steer a path to redemption hitched on desires for assimilation. The Jewish soul cannot smooth a path against its innate grain by subverting the Torah injunction "And they shall be a people onto themselves" (Num 23:9).

There's an internal exile and an external one. May we soon see the day when Jews become proud to be Jewish, proud of their heritage, proud of their Torah and customs, thereby divesting their internal exile. With that achieved, the external exile too will vanish - to yield for all Jews and all mankind a long-awaited, eternal utopia.

1 comment:

  1. hi there of the worst things Yehudim ever did to one another..sigh...what an absolute unforgivable act...those from Gush katif must be devastated beyond belief..I know some of them................HAVE A GREAT Sunday my friend!:)