It happened several weeks ago when I was in America with my son and his five children. Apparently adjoining rooms in new hotels are now obsolete and we were forced to take two separate rooms. It wasn’t just that they weren’t connected, there was another room between us. So I did my fair share of running back and forth in the hall as we got the children settled for the night. Two would be in my room; three with my son. At one point, needing something from my suitcase, my son accompanied me back to what we thought was my empty room. Only it wasn’t. Standing there, right in in the middle, was a man we’d never seen before.
We both looked at him in shock while he explained he was from Maintenance and had come to fix the problem I’d complained about. However, I hadn’t made a complaint. And since my grandchildren don’t speak English they couldn’t have made one either.
I told him so and he mumbled something. My son had the presence of mind to ask for his name. It was Isaac and Isaac made a quick retreat. I called the front desk and they confirmed he did indeed work for the hotel but could not explain why he’d been in my room. I’d had my purse on me and nothing was missing from the rest of our belongings. My son cautioned me to double-lock the door and we decided the let the incident go.
That was fine for an hour or so but once the children were asleep and it was quiet and peaceful in the room my imagination began working overtime. I had two precious souls sleeping in the bed next to mine and I didn’t want anything to happen to either of them. Or to myself. That’s when I decided to park two suitcases in front of the door and put the small steak knife I’d been using for food preparation under my pillow. I prayed I wouldn’t need to use it.
This happened to be on the day following the horrifying massacre in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Our hotel was in Dallas, three hundred miles away. Perhaps I was being extra sensitive. Maybe I was being smart.
When the news broke about the murders in the First Baptist Church I was near the Oklahoma-Kansas border and my initial reaction was wonderment. How could the attacker have killed so many people so quickly? Why didn’t anyone fire a weapon at him and stop him in his tracks? Then I remembered that I wasn’t in Israel. Few take a weapon into a house of worship in America. And their attitude to guns is lightyears away from how we view them at home.
My grandchildren were amazed at the amount of firearms for sale at the Walmart in Oklahoma. These are children whose father, being on the first response team in their village, has both a handgun and a M-!6. They see their friends’ fathers and some of their mothers, as well as teachers, most of their uncles, and their grandfather packing pistols. Yet, they’d never seen anyone buy a gun before.
In America is seems as if anyone can buy a gun unless someone else can proves he can’t. In Israel the onus of proving one is worthy to handle a weapon is on the buyer. He can order a firearm only after obtaining various verifications and is not licensed until after he shows he knows how to use the weapon responsibly.
Several years ago my brother-in-law’s friends were shocked that he was planning a visit to Israel. Wasn’t he afraid? He was not. In Israel, he explained, the good guys have the guns. Unfortunately, that isn’t one hundred percent true. We do have armed bad guys here but those bad guys are quite aware that there are plenty of well-trained, armed citizens with their eyes wide open ready to defend others.
One of the best examples of that happened over twenty years ago at the Shilo area bus stop in Jerusalem. My neighbor was lightly injured when an Arab driver plowed into the crowd of people waiting for a ride home. Another woman was murdered. Two of my son’s friends opened fire on the terrorist, eliminating him from slamming his car into the crowd a second time.
When I studied the Book of Judges with Rebbetzin Pearl Barow we learned in chapter four how the Canaanites, led by Sisera, oppressed Israel. Dvorah and Barak led the people to war and it was Yael, another woman, who killed Siserla by piercing his head with a tent pin. Rebbeztin Barow asked us if we thought we would ever be able to do anything like Yael had done. I nodded in the affirmative. Even though I hate bloodshed I would like to think I would do whatever I could to protect myself, my family, my people.
Thankfully, I was not tested that night in the hotel. Thankfully, it was my last night in America and now I’m home where, despite Arab terror, I feel safe. One almost always feels safe when at home. My knife is back in my kitchen and I’m using it solely for food preparation. I use my pillow to sleep with, not to hide potential weapons.