June 20, 2014 admin

Brother and keeper

We will pray in our communities this Shabbat for the three kidnapped boys Ya’akov Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach. I’m sure many of us are already doing so.
Our prayers must go out in circles around them too. First of all these circles must include their parents and families. “This is a very difficult time for us, but we feel the nation’s embrace and the strength of your thoughts and prayers I hope are reaching Gilad’, said his mother on Israeli television. There can be no greater nightmare for a parent than what is happening to her.
Our prayers should also include the brave Israeli-Arab teenager who posted on Facebook: ‘I call for the return of the abducted teens. This is not the way to reach peace.’ Following death threats he added: ‘I’m afraid to go to school’. We should pray too for the Israeli Arab boy who subsequently posted a picture of himself holding an Israeli flag with the words “Bring Back Our Boys”. “I am against kidnappings, and there are a lot of Israeli-Arabs who support Israel and the peace process,” he said. They are surely very far from alone, and give us faith that in spite of everything there exists a basic solidarity for the sake of the values of life and family.
We should pray too for all the soldiers, police and civilians involved in the vast search operations for the boys and that they should be successful in two ways. First of all, may the boys be found alive and safe and soon. Secondly, may as little harm and violence as possible ensue from the search operations themselves. Tragically, it is almost always the case that violence leads to more violence, anger to more anger. However bleak we may feel, we must pray that the ultimate end of these operations will not be even more hatred and resentment, but greater understanding. Such a thought may seem foolish and naïve, but we must on no account relinquish it from our prayers, hopes and goals and it must govern our words and actions.
The vast cruelties of the politics of the Middle East have become even more frightening with the unfolding of this week’s events in Iraq. One fears for Israel; one fears simply for people, human beings, parents, children, Jewish, Arab, whoever they may be, who want to do what people want to do: love their family and get on with making a living. Only when we remember that we are all people, someone’s child, someone’s sister, someone’s parent, will there be less hatred and more humanity and understanding. Only when we stand up for that humanity, whoever’s it is, will we bring safety and peace nearer.
That is why I was so moved to read about the prayers shared by Jewish and Muslim leaders from the Etzion block this Tuesday: “Our hearts are torn at this moment, and my heart goes out the mothers of these children,” said Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Hawa. “There is a wall between our two nations, and we hope to remove the wall separating the hearts of humans … we pray that God return these youngsters to their mothers as soon as possible, God willing,” he added, speaking in Arabic. (Times of Israel – click here for the full article)
Israel has called the search for our three boys ‘Operation Brother’s Keeper’. That is exactly what it is, because every Israeli, and many beyond, feel that these boys could be their children, their brothers. But the name also reminds us that both ‘brother’ and ‘keeper’ have the widest possible of meanings in the Bible, because we are all God’s children and one another’s keepers and protectors, whoever we may be.
May the boys be brought safely home. May the anguish of these dreadful events awaken our hearts to what truly matters in the world.

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