Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Cat in Heat

Late Monday night, or rather early Tuesday morning, I awoke to the sound of a cat in heat. As I tried to tune out the snarls and yawls I imagined myself climbing out of bed and just shutting the window. Perhaps that wouldn’t have helped but I’ll never know because I couldn’t find the energy to get up. At the same time, unbeknown to me, my husband was having his own thoughts of getting up. Rather than closing the window he fantasized shooting the annoying animal. Whether he also lacked the energy to get up or, even at the ungodly hour of four am, he knew that was an overreaction, the cat remained alive. Somehow or other we both fell back asleep. I woke up late to the horrible news that there’d been a real shooting.

There was a phone message from the night before that read a shooting had been near Shilo. Four were injured, one seriously, and none of them were from our village. That was all. No names. No addresses. No details. Within a short time I learned the site of the terror attack. It was the junction of the turnoff to the Gush Shilo villages from the Alon Highway, approximately six kilometers from my home, a spot I’ve travelled numerous times. Were the victims all members of a family on their way home from a wedding? Could they have been soldiers on patrol? Perhaps they were teenagers coming back from a long hike in the north? 

Turning to the computer gave me no information. There was just a worried email from a cousin. Her concern warmed my heart but I was too caught up with my own worries to answer her right away. Soon, though, the details of the attack made it through to the cell phones and onto the news.

Four young men from Kochav HaShachar had been on their way home from playing in a basketball tournament in Eli, the nearby village, around eleven pm Monday night. Terrorists opened fire on them from another car and then sped away.
Bullet holes in the car courtesy of Jerusalem Post
All four were injured and Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld was in critical condition. His mother, Sara, had been the Shilo social worker for years. His father, Eliezer, has a band which has played at countless weddings I’ve attended. Thirteen years ago their oldest son, Yitzhak, was killed in a freak flash flood accident. Eliezer’s call to the country to pray for his son touched my soul and I know I wasn’t alone in my pleas to the Almighty to make a miracle for the Rosenfeld family.

For whatever reason, HaShem decided that Malachi Moshe, HY’D, had done his job in this world and it was time for him to return to the world of truth. I know he’s in a better place but it is so hard for those who loved him. His murder was the second* since Ramadan** began on June 18th. His friends, Yair Ben Shoshana, Shai Ben Nili, and Chanenel Ben Shula were injured in the second terror attack of the day on Monday, the sixth in Israel in the span of twelve days. I don’t know how many attacks there have been around the world. When will it end?

It doesn’t promise to be an easy summer. Already we had the memorials for Gil-ad, Naftali, and Eyal, HY’D, the three kidnapped boys. Soon the remembrances for all the fallen soldiers from last year’s war will begin. And there’s the tenth year anniversary of the destruction of Gush Katif. How can we make a change?   

This Shabbat, in synagogues everywhere, we will hear the Torah portion, Balak, the portion in which the non-Jewish prophet, Balaam, tries three times to curse the Jewish nation. He fails miserably as the Almighty changes his curses into blessings. Apparently, even though the Jewish people had provoked HaShem over and over, they still had enough merits to warrant His protection.

Unfortunately, some two thousand years ago we did not have enough merits to keep our second Holy Temple from being destroyed. Our sages teach that it was destroyed because of senseless hatred among ourselves. Obviously, despite all our good deeds, we have not fixed this problem or our Temple would have already been rebuilt. Instead, this coming Sunday is a fast day as it ushers in the three weeks of mourning leading to the ninth*** of Av, the date of the Temple’s destruction.

There is a tradition that the Moshiach, when we deserve him, will come on the ninth of Av. We have a little more than three weeks to change our senseless hatred into senseless love. This is the time to fix the little irritations we have with our spouses, children, siblings, and parents.   It’s the time to reach out to the estranged relative, to try and understand the difficult neighbor, to give the benefit of doubt to all those who irritate us. We have twenty-five days to start looking beyond external difference and see the beautiful souls within all of us

Doing this, then perhaps we can earn enough merits for HaShem to indeed send us the Moshiach. Then the ninth of Av will change into a day of rejoicing. We can all rebuild the Holy Temple together.  And together we’ll be able to defeat the evil of terror.

I pray that this will be the year that we’ll get our act together. I pray that we’ll achieve true peace. I pray that I won’t ever have anything more troubling to write about than a cat in heat.

*Danny Gonen, HY’D, was shot at point blank range while hiking on June 19th.
**Ramadan is the holy month of Moslems in which they fast all day and only eat at night. In Israel there is less traffic and more violence.

***This year the ninth of Av falls on Shabbat so we will fast on the tenth. 


Esther Jacobs said...

Very glad family is ok but very sad that family lost another child. What you said is so true, when will we have love instead of hate. When will we have peace instead of war. I pray daily for the world to open its eyes and see what we are doing everywhere. Thank you for your post and i understand that you were worried as I was.

Batya Medad said...

Terrible tragedy.

PS the cat isn't ours. She died years ago.