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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Can You Yell ‘God’ in a Crowded Cemetery?

Sharon's thugs brutally deported our Jewish brothers and sisters from their homes, ruined countless Jewish lives, burned down synagogues and buildings and hot houses and fields. Are we not allowed to say now that God punished Sharon for his wickedness?

Sharon's thugs brutally deported our Jewish brothers and sisters from their homes, ruined countless Jewish lives, burned down synagogues and buildings and hot houses and fields. Are we not allowed to say now that God punished Sharon for his wickedness?
Photo Credit: Pierre Terdjman/Flash90

Yitzhak Aharonovich, of Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, is Israel’s Minister of Internal Security. His first government role was as Minister of Tourism, which probably qualified him for his latest career move.

I don’t like the fact that Israel has a ministry devoted to internal security. The name brings to mind not images of little children playing care free in the park as it does images of long, gray corridors and interrogation rooms. Until 1995, the office was named Ministry of the Police, which brought to mind traffic tickets and cops fighting over their pensions. I liked it better that way.

Israel already has a Ministry of the Interior, which, by rights, should be taking care of Internal security—it’s in the name, even. Who needs, on top of a ministry taking care of the interior, another ministry taking care of the security of the interior?

Here’s what Minister of Internal Security Aharonovich was busy with this week:

As you may have noticed wherever you looked or listened in Israel these past three days, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died on Saturday, after a long sleep. No one took the news lightly. The man had admirers, but, boy, did he have enemies. One of his loudest enemies inside Israel were the students of yeshiva Torat Hachayim, who were among the thousands of Jews Sharon had forcibly deported from Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip.

Some of those students reacted with exuberant glee to the news of Sharon’s passing, and even hung up leaflets literally congratulating him on his demise, complete with a citation from the Shulchan Aruch regarding the proper mourning ceremony for Jewish traitors (the terms mumarim and mosrim are subtler, but in this context, they mean traitors).

Our gemora teaches (Bav BB 16b) that a man is not judged for things he said or did in his time of stress. This is not a criminal rule, but a social one, and it also hints at the way Heaven evaluates our speech and actions at such times.

In my opinion, these yeshiva guys were entitled to their expression of satisfaction at the death of the man who ruined their lives. I wish everyone in Israel shared their freedom of spirit. What’s more normal and mentally healthy than to rejoice at the passing of the wicked man who sent brutal cops to drag you and your parents and your children onto the waiting buses, and abandoned your property so your enemies could come and burn it down.

Secular Israelis have a habit of citing bits of verses which turn out to mean entirely different things than the full verse does. Most memorable is the clipped cite “he who steals from a thief is absolved,” which basically means that if I ran off with your car after it had been stolen by someone else, I get to keep it. That’s a distortion of the actual mishna (Bav BK 62b) which says that while a thief must pay back double what he stole, the one who steals from a thief is absolved from paying double and must only return the stolen item to its owner.

A similarly convenient cite is from Proverbs 24:17: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.”

That sounds like a firm warning by Scriptures that when you see your enemy getting what he deserves, you shouldn’t be happy. The only thing missing here is context, which is provided by the next verse, 24:18: “Lest God will see and disapprove of you and turn His wrath away from him (your enemy).”

In other words, this is good advise to anyone taking their relationship with God seriously: God is watching all of us, and if you make a lot of noise, you’re practically begging Him to judge you on your gloating.

Yori Yanover

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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