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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Fogel’

‘Getting’ Purim This Year

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Although most of us are now focused on Pesach and rolling up our sleeves – both physically and mentally – we need to keep close to our hearts a wrenching message that was brought to the fore this particular Purim. For me and many other Jews, Purim was not “business as usual” in terms of having great fun, merrymaking and partying. Our joy was deeply tempered by the haunting images of the murdered Fogel family – a young mother, father, and three of their six children, including a three-month old infant girl – who were ruthlessly slaughtered as they slept, by Palestinian descendants of Amalek.

How could we boisterously celebrate the timely foiling of our planned annihilation by Haman, when the Fogel’s personal “megillah” had a brutally violent ending?

The merciless (who could stab an infant in her crib) murder of this peaceful family crystallized what Purim is truly all about – Amalek’s obsession to do the very same to hundreds of thousands of men, women, children and babies.

We intellectually understand that thousands of years ago, a virulent anti-Semite tried to butcher us, but we don’t fully internalize what that means. It’s like the old joke regarding our holidays. “They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat!” Emotionally, the story of Purim (and of Pesach, which revolves around yitziyat Mitzrayim – our emancipation from Egypt), doesn’t have the impact it should – it doesn’t speak to our hearts. We are focused on the partying.

This year, this Purim I “got” it all too well: We escaped the fate of the Fogel family.

Yet, we wonder with sorrow, why didn’t they? Why were these particular sons of Amalek so successful in destroying this erlich, devout couple and their sweet babies?

No one mortal can answer this question – but I wonder if the last sentence of the Megillah possibly offers a clue.

The Megillah states that Mordechai was second to the king, was great among the Jews – and “ratzu l’rov achav” – accepted by the multitude of his brethren. It’s funny, I’ve read this line every year for decades, but never realized that something did not make sense. The word “rov” in nearly all translations means “most” or a majority. This final pasuk in the Megillah states that Mordechai was liked/accepted by a “multitude” (majority) of his people. How could it be that he was not embraced by “ALL” of them? You would think EVERY Jew – survivors of an aborted genocide – would be so grateful to Mordechai that the word “kol”, meaning ALL would have been the word used, not rov.

Mordechai was instrumental in stopping what would have been a horrific bloodbath. Yet obviously some people had an issue with the man who saved them, their wives, children and babies from being slaughtered by a crazed mob fortified by a governmental ” green light” to do so. Or else the word “kol” would have been the one in the megillah – not “rov.” What possible reason could any Jew have to complain about Mordechai?

I can only imagine that there were Jews infected with the two warped attributes that have ruined many individuals, families and nations – unmitigated jealousy/envy and arrogance – character traits that have caused overwhelming sinat chinum and hence acrimony and division within the community.

No doubt, due to mindless jealousy, some of Mordechai’s peers could not “fahgin” his incredible achievements and the honor that came out of it. The Yiddish word fahgin is unique in that it is used in the dual context of forgiving someone when they wronged you – and when they haven’t. It is applied when no actual hurt was done by the individual, yet the person doing the forgiving (or not) feels negatively impacted – for no real reason.

Point in case: A woman, one of hundreds, puts a ticket in a bin in the hope of winning an expensive sheitel at a Chinese auction – and hers is drawn. She wins the fancy wig everyone was salivating over. While some of her friends and acquaintances are thrilled for her, others don’t “fahgin” her good fortune. Though she did not wrong them in any way, they do not forgive her luck. It’s as if she took away something they felt belonged to them – or that they were more deserving of.

Maybe some of the Jews who were not fans of Mordechai felt that he was just lucky – that he was in the right place at the right time (he overheard the plot against the king) and that he had the right connections (being related to the queen) and that he was no “big deal” and therefore was not necessarily competent nor worthy to be the number two bigwig in the empire.

Some might have felt that they were better suited for the job; that they were smarter; more pious (after all, he let his adopted daughter/kinswoman marry a non-Jew); that they came from better yichus, were better educated, etc.

This unwarranted envy and haughtiness and conceit has led to rancorous, even malicious discord, division and dispute within our community, with tragic consequences. For the Jewish people, a lack of unity, an unwillingness or inability to be am achad, a unified people – embracing our differences and respecting one another (secular, religious, Litvish, Chassidish/Ashkenazi, Sephardic, etc.) is our Achilles heel, our collective kryptonite.

Without achdut, we are vulnerable to Amalek’s attempts to annihilate us – one family at a time or in a mass massacre. Our continuity depends on our solidarity – our unity.

In order to achieve this oneness with our fellow Jews, we have to destroy the Amalek lurking in our psyche -seething jealousy and preening snobbery. We must work at viewing another Jew’s good fortune as being our good fortune. That his “win” is our win also. Ironically, we actually are good at feeling another Jew’s sorrow – but somehow, many of us can’t fahgin his happiness or success.

We must work at giving unconditional support, protection and kavod (respect) to every Yid no matter his religious affiliation, economic or social status (except those tragic, twisted Jews who are anti-Semitic and pro-Amalek).

Then as one united people we will truly be able to shout out, “Am Yisrael Chai!”

The Best Revenge Is To Build

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Even for a region accustomed to brutality, last week’s Sabbath massacre in Itamar stands out for its sheer savagery and barbarism.
 
Just hours after their home had been filled with song and sanctity in honor of the weekly day of rest, the Fogel family was decimated by at least one Palestinian terrorist in an attack so horrific that it defies comprehension.
 
With methodical cruelty, the perpetrator went from room to room, slashing and stabbing the parents and three of their children.
 
As a result, Ruth and Udi Fogel, along with their sons Yoav, 11, and Elad, 4, and their 3-month old daughter Hadas, were murdered, leaving behind three young orphans under the age of 12.
 
The carnage came as a painful reminder of the depravity of Israel’s enemies, who do not hesitate to raise a knife against a Jewish toddler sleeping peacefully alongside her father in bed.
 
Photos of the Fogel children lying in pools of blood with stab wounds on their innocent young bodies were circulated over the Internet and around the world, in an attempt to underline the threat posed to civilization by Palestinian terror.
 
But as shocking as the images are, they are unlikely to make more than a dent in international public opinion.
 
After all, since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords, the Jewish state has been the target of an unprecedented wave of terror, as Palestinians have employed everything from suicide bombings to rocket attacks on towns and cities.
 
And despite this, much of the international community still blames Israel for the lack of progress toward peace while all but overlooking the butchery committed against it.
 
The attack in Itamar was the work of pure evil, and Israel should hunt down those responsible for it with unrelenting determination. No effort should be spared to punish or capture the terrorists who carried out this brutal assault.
 
            In the aftermath of the incident, the government rightly pointed the finger at the Palestinian Authority’s ongoing incitement to violence, highlighting the glorification of terror that appears in the official Palestinian press.
 
Indeed, shortly after the attack, Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas met with a group of Palestinian youths participating in a song competition lionizing suicide bombers.
 
And this past Sunday, as the Fogel family was laid to rest in Jerusalem, the Fatah youth movement organized a public ceremony in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, to name a square after terrorist Dalal Mughrabi.
 
Mughrabi was one of the thugs who took part in the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre that killed 38 Israelis, including 13 children.
 
There is no doubt that the years of indoctrination of hatred and animosity toward Israel in Palestinian schoolbooks, radio shows, television programs and newspaper articles all contributed to the warped morality that produced the killers of the Fogel family.
 
And the cult of death is alive and well in places such as Gaza, where Palestinians literally cheered the news of the attack and even handed out sweets on the streets of Rafah.
 
A society that countenances such behavior is clearly one that has foregone even the most rudimentary elements of decency and ethics.
 

Hence, to expect Israel to make concessions to its leadership is both irresponsible and reckless.

Needless to say, the international community also bears part of the blame, if only because of its continuing campaign of delegitimization against the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria.
 
By labeling the Jewish population of the territories “illegal” and “illegitimate”, they have played into the hands of the terrorists, essentially painting a target on the backs of every Jew living there.
 
If Jewish families in Itamar or Hebron are repeatedly deemed to be “obstacles to peace” and “occupiers,” then is it any surprise that there will be those who attack them?
 
In responding to the massacre, Prime Minister Netanyahu wisely chose to underline Israel’s resolve by approving the construction of several hundred new housing units in Judea and Samaria.
 
It was an important first step toward strengthening the Jewish presence in these areas, even if it fell far short of what can and should be done. Most of the homes approved for construction are in communities such as Ariel and Gush Etzion, which everyone agrees Israel would hold onto as part of any final settlement.
 
A stronger message could have – and should have – been sent to our foes by authorizing the establishment of new settlements as well as expanding Itamar itself.
 
It needs to be made clear to the Palestinians that their attempts to eradicate communities such as Itamar will only result in their further expansion.
 
Or to put it even more bluntly: The best revenge is to build.
 
Where the Palestinians seek to extinguish Jewish life, let’s fortify and expand it.  Where they seek to snuff us out, let’s make it abundantly clear that come hell or high water, we are not going anywhere.
 

            The Jewish people have returned to the Land of Israel, and whether the world likes it or not, we are here to stay.

 

 

Michael Freund is chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), a Jerusalem-based organization that reaches out and assists “lost Jews” seeking to return to the Jewish people. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/the-best-revenge-is-to-build/2011/03/16/

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