Letter to the Editor: Shalom Lewis
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Letter to the Editor: Shalom Lewis

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Letter to the editor,

As we prepare for Pesach there is a great deal of schlepping. Packing and unpacking. Shopping and cleaning. It is exhausting for the faithful observer but despite the intensity of the days before, it is a time that ends up rejoicing with friends and family. Devouring ageless delicacies, cheerfully gathered around a festive holiday table. We celebrate a distant victory over tyranny with familiar rituals and inspiring traditions. Typically, it is a glorious time for the Jewish soul.

But this year the Jewish soul weeps not distant saltwater tears but tears that flow from heart break and shattered lives. The enemy is not an ancient Biblical foe but rather a demonic incarnation of ultimate savagery who has breached our gates. For the righteous among us it is a clear war between light and darkness. Civilization and depravity. And yet, too many who we once thought were decent now march with the iniquitous and the morally deranged. We are sickened by such treason and feel betrayed by the many who we once thought were friends and allies in the pursuit of a better world. We have been duped. Shaken. Sold out.

The Haggadah is no longer a charming, entertaining document of history but a harsh reminder that in every generation ‘…Omdim aleinu le chaloteinu…in every generation they have come to destroy us…’ The currency of the Haggadah is painfully astonishing. Not a dusty text weakened by the passage of time but elevated in relevance as we turn page after page.

Ma Nishtana’. What is different this time we ask?  ‘Avadim hayinu… once we were slaves. Impotent, bow headed shufflers’ But this time  is different. We fight back not with mumbled prayers and martyrdom but with an air force. An army. A navy. Never again is our holy battle cry.  Not kaddish. Not Eil malei rachamim. ‘Vayareinu otanu ha Mitzrim…the Egyptians demonized us…’  We have been defamed by a cynical, hateful planet as genocidal as blood thirsty. Branded murderers of the innocent when we are in fact the righteous ones and the victims, our accusers and their useful idiots the authentic villains. Hamas, Nazis with kaffiyas supported by panderers of the worst kind.

Arba banim..the four sons’…The Chacham understands Israel must defeat Hamas utterly and bring the hostages home. That failure to do so is nothing less than a global catastrophe. The Rasha is vile in his pretense of piety. He seeks not peace nor justice but the genocide of the Jewish people and the end of the Jewish state. The Tom marches for human rights and freedom chanting ‘From the river to the sea’ but doesn’t know what river nor what sea. He is bloated by ignorance and worships hypocrisy. Sheayno yodah lishol asks no questions. Raises no issues. Takes no side and dwells in a myopic bubble of self-indulgence. He is oblivious, dismissive of truth but is among the walking dead if Hamas wins.

Dayeinu’ Enough. We have endured exile. Humiliation. Persecution. Slavery. Extermination. We have been helpless, powerless victims long enough. No longer do we accept a sniveling, bloody, feeble destiny. We cry out from the top  of Sinai and Zion…F-35s. Merkava. Drones. Dimona. Mossad. Iron Dome. Shayetet 13. Davids Sling. Dayeinu. Enough.

Our humanity is embedded within the 10 plagues. The 10th makka tragic but there were 9 opportunities to fix things before the coming of The Destroyer, but the Egyptian people never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.  A cruel, cold tunneled Pharoah and his minions are responsible for the death and suffering. It was not God. It was not Moses. It was not the IDF. The misery self- inflicted. And yet we still spill wine with every uttered plague. Our virtue in a Manischewitz puddle.

We open the door for Elijah to dispel libelous accusations yet call for the Almighty’s wrath to obliterate His enemies and ours. It is a delicate line but we miraculously maintain our balance. Our compassion always tested in the crucible of wickedness. Despite the temptation we do not forsake our moral nobility but we do what must be done for victory.

Our seder ends not with’…chasal siddur Pesach… the seder has reached its end..’ No. We continue with songs and melodies. Songs of triumph. Melodies of the unvanquished. We mourn our losses but march forward, a choir of righteous warriors.

Though surrounded by evil doers. Though maligned by bigots. Though abandoned by cowards. Still we continue to sing ‘Leshana habaah b’Yerushalayim…Next year in Jerusalem’ but we also affirm in bittersweet celebration ‘…next year in Sderot. In Kibbutz Beeri, On Road 232, At Nova, In Kiryat Shemona…’

We fight when we must. We win because we must and we continue to sing. That is what Jews do.

Shalom Lewis, Rabbi Emeritus for Congregation Etz Chaim

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