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Monday, October 09, 2023

The Jewish Religious Response to the Simchat Torah War

(This is a commentary on what the Jewish religious response should be. Some terms may be unfamiliar.)

Today, I deviated from the synagogue 'nusach' by reciting Tachnun. If there is any time to call out to G-d, to ask for His Mercy, to fall on our faces in prayer, it's this one.

We cannot afford to continue running on autopilot politically, militarily or religiously. Too many synagogues responded to the attacks with some recitation of Tehilim if even that. When they should have taken down the parochet, declared a fast day and cried out to G-d, the singing and dancing went on. While women were raped and children were caged, we stuffed our faces at lavish kiddushes. Our only defense is that we did not know all or the worst of it. Hatanu. We erred. Myself among them. That excuse is gone.

We should have been told, but now we know. And we must do more.

In times past, we would declare a communal fast day. This was true for both Jews and Americans in general. From the day of King Shaul fighting the Philistines to Purim, fasts went together with battles. Rabbinic figures should consider declaring a communal fast. I personally will be fasting and I would encourage those whose health permits them to fast. And if not to fast, to give up something, to avoid eating out and simplify. We can all do something to appeal to G-d and to feel something of the pain that our brothers and sisters, thousands of affected families, along with the captives are feeling now.

It is above my pay grade to pontificate on religious matters and I do so at grave religious risk. So I will refrain from going much further except to say that the attacks took place the day after the 'sealing of the din'. There may be no coincidence in that. We must fight and win this war, but we must also turn to G-d.

And we must reconsider our deeds and our lives.

For months, Israel has been tearing itself apart. As did the Jewish world. There is no stronger supporter of judicial reform than myself. Or an opponent of the Left. But if the Israeli Left is willing to unite to actually destroy Hamas (rather than another operation that inflicts some injuries and sets the stage for another war) than unity should be welcomed. Many of the murdered and captured were not the usual targets. They came from leftist families and from the echelon of the elites. Had they been 'settlers', it could have been written off. But perhaps the Israeli Left is now willing to reclaim Gaza and end Hamas.

If they are, then unity should be welcomed, not just for political, but also for religious reasons. After months of tearing ourselves apart, we have suffered one of the worst blows in Israel's history. If there is any hope for us, it's that we learn something from it.

Unity begins with empathy. We must feel to cry out to G-d and we must feel to connect with our fellow man. Bein Adam Le'Makom and Bein Adam Le'Chavero both require us to feel, not to just disconnect, and to go about the numb routines of our lives.

During the Holocaust, life went on as usual for most American Jews. While millions were killed, people went to restaurants (sometimes even kosher ones), had cozy family nights and voted for FDR. Much later, they began obsessively building Holocaust museums and memorials. Let us not be like them.   


  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly about declaration of a communal fast. In my view, we are replicating the days of the Second Temple and the Sinat Chinam, baseless hatred, which caused its destruction. Only unity of the Jewish natyas a whole will prevent the destruction of the state.

  2. Anonymous13/10/23

    My heart cries for Israel. My heart cries for Western civilisation. My heart cries for Scotland, whose prime minister is a Gaza Palestiniannwho entertained Hamas terrorists in Scottish parliament just a few months ago. My heart cries for the UK, overrun with our savage enemies Muslims and fully surrendered in face of political correctness. My grandparents fought the Nazis, my parents were persecuted by communists and my children will be fighting Muslim savages. Savages whose religion preaches violence. Whose religion is the cult of death. Cult of rape, slavery and cruelest depravity. Whose religion really is an anti-religion. Whose “culture” is anti-culture. I cannot freely say this or else I would be prosecuted for savage-phobia and my children as well by leftist political-correctness Gestapo. You must remain silent faced with immediate threat of Muslim violence like our ancestors had to remain silent in front of Nazis and Communists.



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