ISRAEL @ WAR: By the Rivers of Babylon
While ideally, were it up to me, I would never leave (and my family would all be living in Israel), we do not yet live in the ideal world, and as such, I must say goodbye to my Home for 10+ days.
While having to leave Israel is bad enough, leaving now is terrible.
I booked my flight months ago.
Who knew that the Jewish State would be fighting a two-front war this summer - it wasn't scheduled.
While many of my friends and peers are being called up to the army to defend the Jewish People and State, I'm going on vacation.
I have found myself thinking of late about Psalm 137, which expresses the emotions of the Jewish People as they went into Exile after the destruction of the Holy Temple:
1 By the rivers of Babylon--
there we sat down and there we wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 On the willows there
we hung up our harps.
3 For there our captors
asked us for songs,
and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying,
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
4 How could we sing the LORD's song
in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither!
6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth,
if I do not remember you,
if I do not set Jerusalem
above my highest joy...
If, on the one hand, I spend the very limited time that I will have on this trip brooding over what's happening back home, then I will be guilty of having wasted the chance to spend meaningful time with my family and loved ones.
If, on the other hand, I spend the next 10+ days living it up in the U.S., all the while my Jewish brothers and sisters are fighting and dying to defend the Jewish State and Homeland, then what does that say about me?
The only way out of this dilemma that I can see is for me to dedicate myself over the next 10+ days to instilling a love for the Jewish State and the Land of Israel in hearts of all those whom I come across while visiting the U.S. - a mini-shlichut, if you will.
For the next 10+ days, I will live the words of a poem by Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi:
My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west--
How can I find savour in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.