A Question Without an Answer

Posted on April 3rd, 2009

“a terrorist with an axe murdered a kid and left another in the hospital with serious axe wounds…… why does god let this happen?!?1?”

Above is a Facebook entry from a young person in Neve Daniel. There are many others from kids who live here and are trying to make sense of yesterday’s terrible news. While I have discussed (along with almost everyone I know) the answer to the question why does G-D allow horrible things to happen to good people, it is simply not possible to sound rational when you live down the road from terror. If I can’t answer the question for myself satisfactorily, how can a young person who grows believing that G-D is there to protect him, find an answer that gives comfort?

Besides the obvious horrible consequence of terrorism, one child murdered and another who will carry the memory of the attack all his life, there is a deeper, insidious result. A whole generation of kids feel that their value systems have been upended. They are angry and not content to accept the only answers we grown-ups can give. So many find themselves with just two choices.

One is to grow up scared. This is a terrible option because the whole point of the State of Israel is that there should finally be a place where Jews do not have to live in fear. The image of the Jew hiding in his home shaking with fear of the next pogrom was supposed to go down when the flag of the State of Israel went up. Thankfully, few of the young people here embrace that option.

The other alternative is to grow up angry. By the look of other Facebook posts, this is the choice that many embrace. I cringe when I see posts like “G-d damn the Arabs, I wish they would all die,” Yet I understand the emotions that can push a young person to feel that way. In fact, haven’t all of us at one time or another said or thought similar things upon receiving news of terror?

How else can a human being react when he hears that a friend has been murdered by an axe wielding terrorist to the support of many Palestinian “leaders?” So how does one living here raise his children to be proud of their homeland yet not let that pride cross over into racism?

Perhaps this is the greatest challenge of life in Israel. We have returned to our ancestral homeland and will make no apologies to anyone for rebuilding our nation here. Yet we must do everything possible to not give up the moral foundation that must always be at the center of what we do. Despite what you may read in the media, we do not indiscriminately kill those who mean us no harm. What we do to protect ourselves, we do because we must, not because we enjoy it.

I believe that life in Israel is a wonderful and satisfying life, but it’s not always easy. Whether we know the victims personally or not, we all know those who are effected by a terror attack. Let’s listen to our kids this Pesach and try and help them navigate through their emotions so they do not feel they are alone is trying to make sense out of acts that are as senseless as they are horrifying.

After an act of terror, our kids may ask “why does G-d let this happen.” But as a nation, maybe we should be asking “Why do we?”

Shabbat Shalom from our blessed nation.

In memory of Shlomo Nativ, another young Jewish man murdered for living in the Land of Israel.

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