I’m writing this essay under protest. No that these events aren’t of crucial importance to Jews in Israel and everywhere, but that the entire situation is a distraction from our very real and urgent mission in this world of bringing God’s Ohr Ein Sof, Infinite Light, into the material world. As a rabbi, I’d be seriously negligent if, passing this over in silence, I appeared complacent.
When it became clear that Jews, indeed, carried out the murder of Mohammad Khdeir several years ago, the entire Jewish people rose up as one to condemn the murder and to repudiate the murderers, even though they were Jewish. If it becomes clear, which at this moment it is anything but, that Jews carried out the savage firebombing murders in Duma several months ago, the entire Jewish people will, once again, rise up as one and condemn the act and repudiate the perpetrators. That’s who we are and what we do.
And while we can’t deny that there are some Jews who have gone ’round the bend, fallen into madness and evil–trying to whitewash this reality works against us as well as being a violation of Torah–expressing hate and celebrating the murders, as a recent video seems to show, is not the same as carrying out the murders. These people shame us and weaken us, but we also need to keep in mind that they are but a percentage of a percentage of one percent of our people. We don’t, and never will, erect statues and monuments to them, we won’t glorify them in any way.
The main problem that I see right now, slightly past noon, PDT, on the 24th of December 2015 (it’s important to time and date this because actual facts, rather than innuendo, could come to light or it could be demonstrated that there are no actual facts) is the Israeli government’s and defense establishment’s secrecy. If there is, indeed, evidence that the people currently in “administrative detention” are guilty of the crime, disclosing that evidence will go a tremendous distance in healing the growing, festering rift between right and left in Israel and will allow us to come together in reality. Disclosure won’t disrupt investigations into actual Palestinian terror plans, so I’m baffled by the refusal to bring the facts to light. If there is no factual evidence, admit as such and free these people, even if their opinions are repugnant to many people.
Jewish tradition, based as it is on Torah, is unique among all world religions because our seminal event of divine revelation, Matan Torah, was not an unseen God whispering secrets to a chosen prophet, but a public display to every single Jew. In fact, we’re taught that not only were the Jews alive at that moment present at Sinai, but so were all Jews ever to be borne. Torah Sh’b’al Peh, the oral explanation and expansion of Torah is not hidden away, available to only an elite, but published and republished generation after generation. The incredible historical literacy rate among our people through the centuries was fostered specifically to make all aspects of Torah available to every Jew. Even our mystical, Kabbalistic wisdom appears in regularly published books. Secrecy does not become the Jewish People. Additionally, we don’t claim perfection and purity, even for our greatest, most inspiring teachers and leaders. Tanach is filled with the faults and failings of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, David and more! Not only can we take being imperfect, we can take admitting, and learning from it, too.
But there is an unbridgeable gap between facts and innuendo, truth and accusations. Of course we will always have a small number of deviants as we’ve been forced to see in the obscene wedding “celebration” video released by Israel’s Intelligence services. (The charge that they “plot” to exchange the current government for a king is one that every traditional Jew prays for three times every day, although most of us realize that at this time we have no idea what a restored Davidic kingship really means, but that the path will never be one of violence against our own!) But until we admit their existence how can we condemn and repudiate this behavior and label it as deviant? Denial will lead to acceptance which, Chas V’Shalom, can lead to admiration and glorification, which is what the Palestinian Arab’s savage establishment, the PA/PLO does with their terrorists. Just as the Israeli government needs to fully disclose the facts they have and the fact of the facts they don’t have, we of the Torah-observant world need to fully disclose our own deviants. Truth and honesty is universally a Jewish obligation.
Now time to get back to work, helping folks understand Torah.