Photo Credit: Jewish Press

What are Hamas’ victory photos? Children in Sderot crying, houses hit by rockets, burnt fields, and, sadly, four Israeli funerals. In other words, sowing destruction, violence, and death – that’s victory.

What victory pictures do we, in contrast, want to see? Construction, new communities, agriculture, education, employment, development, acts of kindness, birth. In other words: life.


This week’s parshah, Parshat Emor, begins with an unequivocal declaration: “Tell the priests, the sons of Aaron…: ‘None of you shall be made impure with your people.'” Since then, our priests have kept their distance from the dead and cemeteries.

The Jewish nation came out of ancient Egypt where there were glorious rituals surrounding death, where the priests managed an entire death industry of witchcraft and embalming. After the Exodus, the Torah commanded us to transfer the spiritual center of a religious leader from death to life. Life is the main thing.

Today, we are in a cultural struggle against another death industry; we have terrorists who sanctify becoming a shahid, who see the murder of innocents as a divine commandment.

On the other side stands the weekly parshah reminding us that, in the name of G-d, one must live and not die, to give life and not to murder.

(Translated by


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Sivan Rahav-Meir, a ba’alas teshuvah, is one of the most popular media personalities in Israel. She is a Channel 2 News anchor, a columnist for Yediot Aharonot, and the host of a weekly radio show on Galei Tzahal. Every day she shares short Torah thoughts to over 100,000 Israelis – both observant and not – via Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp.