Photo Credit:
Dov Shurin

As I write this, missiles are being shot across the Israeli skies, with Hamas terrorists hoping to cause casualties and gain popularity among Palestinians. Even as they die, they imagine their god loves it when they die for him.

Isn’t it comforting to know that our God, Hashem, loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?

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This current conflict started when three yeshiva students were kidnapped and murdered. While we hoped to find them alive, the knowledge that they will one day return to the living, when the dead are resurrected, comforts us all.

Their mothers were each symbolic of Mother Rachel. Their fathers glowed with spiritual strength. They succeeded in uniting the entire nation. The pictures of the children on the pages of the daily papers, the faces and messages of the parents, made us a proud, unified nation.

But when an Arab child was kidnapped and burned alive, and the murderer was found to be a Jew – an obvious lunatic, seeking revenge – we witnessed a downright Chillul Hashem.

Our unity and Jewish pride quickly evaporated, because our nation, regardless of our individual levels of religious observance, knows our God wants us to cherish life – for all people, regardless of religion, race, or conflicting beliefs.

After the tragic murder of the Arab teen, Hamas terrorists attempted to instigate a third intifada and capture headlines with unrelenting missile attacks, forcing us into the current conflict.

There’s no question Hashem hates the behavior of Hamas, as is stated in the holy Torah (Devarim 12:30, 31), “When you come to dwell in the land…don’t follow in the ways of the former inhabitants, which is an abomination, for both their sons and daughters do they burn in fire to their gods.” (Suicide bombers, anyone?)

So much do we cherish life, even for those who hate us, that the IDF actually made thousands of phone calls to Gaza residents, warning them to flee from their homes prior to an anticipated army incursion. This is Am Yisrael.

I remember one day saying to Hashem, “You know how much I love you? If you asked me to kill someone, I would say “No, if you want him dead then kill him Yourself!”

Shocked at my own thinking, I asked myself, “Does that show your ‘love’ for God? Refusing the will of God?”

On Shavuos , the holiday that commemorates the receiving of our beloved Torah, I discovered that there is a basis for what I said – that a request from Above to kill someone would need a good explanation.

I began the morning prayers and was reading the Akeidas Yitzchak, which was Father Avraham’s final and most challenging test: the command to slaughter his son Yitzchak on the altar.

I suddenly understood would test Avraham’s faith like no test before. Avraham had 10 tests, 10 challenges to his faith. His first nine challenges dealt with this life but the akeida was a test of Avraham’s true faith in the resurrection of the dead – his faith in an afterlife.

I asked myself, would any normal father agree to slaughter his son? It’s unthinkable. There had to be more to it. And of course there was.

Father Avraham knew he was already promised that through “Yitzchak shall your seed be propagated.”

But Yitzchak, not yet married at the time, did not have children, so Hashem’s test of Avraham needed an explanation. Hashem must have explained that this was a test of Avraham’s belief in life after death. And Hashem certainly assured him that He would immediately bring Yitzchak back to life, 100 percent healed and healthy.

Then came the “vayomer, hineni!” Now Avraham agreed, and also understood that to pass this test he must do the killing himself to truly prove his full faith in the resurrection of man. To this he firmly responded, “Hineni!” “Behold, I stand ready!”

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Dov Shurin is a popular radio personality and the composer and producer of several albums. He lives with his family in Israel and can be contacted at dovshurin@yahoo.com. His Jewish Press column appears the third issue of each month.