Torah Tidbits

On My Way to Israel!
Shabbat Parashat Mattot
July 19, 2014 – 21 Tammuz 5774 featured-rabbi

On My Way to Israel!

This will be my final Tidbits email for a while, as I am scheduled to fly to Israel on this coming Monday. I am leaving for a vacation and plan to spend the next month with the Israel-based branch of my family and friends, and especially with my children and grandchildren.

As you know, this is not a simple time in Israel. Still, life goes on. Masorti/Conservative rabbis, congregations, and summer camps, are providing ongoing spiritual support, and relief and respite for many people in Israel. USY groups are still visiting Israel, and, with appropriate itinerary adjustments, they are still able to play, to tour, and to grow Jewishly.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel, and with the soldiers at the forefront of the fight to deal with the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks – attacks which have been aimed unrelentingly at Israel’s civilian population. Now, doing whatever is possible to prevent civilian casualties in Gaza, the IDF is moving forward in Operation Protective Edge, to protect the people of Israel. Let’s hope that the campaign to stop the rockets will be successful and will lead to greater security and to true and lasting peace.

Our Torah portion of Mattot tells of the preparations made for a Biblical war which was to be waged against the Midianites. Moses drafts men from the age of twenty and up for the expected military conflict. Rashi, the classical Biblical commentator, explains that one of the requirements for enlisting in the Israelite armed forces at that time was that the men had to be tzaddikim [righteous people].

This means that even in times of extreme danger – even in wartime – there is an expectation that our military forces will be guided by values that reflect both our love of life and our respect for the lives of all people.

This is no simple task.

But, in watching the efforts of the IDF to avoid harming innocent civilians while seeking to destroy the terrorist infrastructure that has been targeting Israel’s civilian population, we can be proud, that Israel is taking the message of Torah very seriously. Israel is trying very hard to protect life on both sides of the border.

All of us have the opportunity to help by expressing our support for Israel, by showing that we understand the urgency of the situation, its complexity, and the bravery and courage of the IDF forces, and by contributing to the emergency campaign for Israel, spearheaded by JFNA.

May the IDF efforts be crowned with success. May peace replace war. And, may the soldiers return safely and soon to their loving families and to their homes.

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a wonderfully refreshing summer!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror