I was going to explain why I didn’t post a Musing last week, but instead feel the need to spill out some of what is in my heart on a completely different topic. Like many others, I love this drawing.
If you haven’t heard of the Iron Dome, it, along with the broad availability of bomb shelters, is the physical explanation for why there have been more Gazan casualties than Israeli ones in the past few weeks. For years, Israel allocated human and financial resources to protecting its civilians and cities from rocket attack. In contrast, the rulers in Gaza deliberately place their civilians in dangerous situations, especially women and children. Then they aggressively target Israel’s women and children, provoking an Israeli response. They then relish the photo ops that allow them to manipulate public opinion. The publicity is worth more to them than their people’s lives. (As Dennis Prager says, “Imagine that during World War II, the Western press had converged on German hospitals and apartment buildings and repeatedly announced the huge disparity between German civilian deaths and British civilian deaths. More than 10 times the number of German civilians were killed as were British -- but did that have anything at all to do with the morality of the British war against Germany?”)
With family members and my people under fire, I am immensely grateful for the Iron Dome and for God who gave wisdom to its builders. Yet, as the above drawing indicates, I know that the Iron Dome is worthless without God’s Hand.
At the same time, the wording under the drawing troubles me. You see, when the Jewish people are vulnerable, it is because we have violated our contract with God. We say in our prayers, “Because of our sins we have been exiled from our land...,” not, “Because of the Babylonians and the Greeks and the Romans we have been exiled from our land...” This doesn’t absolve the enemies of the Jewish people from responsibility for their actions. Each nation and individual makes their own choices and must face the consequences. However, we cannot take God’s protection for granted – it is dependent on His people’s actions. If He is sheltering us, no one can harm us; if He removes His shield, nothing can save us.
In this sense, God’s protection works on a national level. Righteous people and sinners are both caught up in unfolding events. The difficulty lies in pinpointing what causes God to judge us so harshly.
It is easy for me to be certain that God does not smile on a Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv. Surely, He cries as abortions take place in His land. It is easy for me to know that He is appalled at those individuals who profess to be ultra-religious, yet suffer child molestation or financial chicanery in their midst. Surely, He is revolted by dissension and fighting among those who meticulously observe his Shabbat and kosher dietary laws. What I do not know is if one of these things brings down more judgment more than any other does.
It is even harder for me to accept my own responsibility for misbehavior. How disturbed is God at my breezing through prayer without paying attention to what I am saying and to Whom I am speaking? Maybe He is more bothered by my rushing through the supermarket and forgetting to say a kind word to the cashier or by my not greeting my husband with enough affection. Perhaps something altogether different is what I personally need to correct, let alone what we as a nation must change. We have no Moses today to articulate God’s Word to us. There is no one holy or wise enough to say, “God will remove His protection if...”
We are left with each one of us needing to try harder on as many fronts as we can while simultaneously pleading with God to have mercy on His (often clueless) children. We can and must be grateful to the Almighty for the incredible low number of casualties in Israel so far (and Moslems and Christians in Israel share in that miracle) while recognizing that no technology can work unless God’s guiding Hand is behind it.
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