by Moshe Kempinski
Arutz-Sheva, Israel National News
Sep 12, ’05 / 8 Elul 5765
I made the mistake of listening to the mindless babble of several
media personalities recently. They were talking about the past year’s
trends. One of them picked up the orange band worn by supporters of
She said, “Do you know what this orange band is [as if anyone in the
country did not]?” She went on to describe that she looked on the
band and was surprised to see “I Love Gush Katif” on the band. “I
guess we won’t see much of that anymore,” she giggled. The other
individual agreed in good humor and said those orange streamers will
probably be mistaken for support of some football team. The both
giggled in childish glee.
What was so painfully evident was that they were describing their own
inner desire, rather than an objective discussion of the orange bands
and streamers that swept the country. They truly wanted to forget. It
was that nervous frenetic energy that brought about the giggles. They
did not want to remember that they were part of a heartless machine
that destroyed Jewish communities and sent their inhabitants to
wander from hotel to hotel and from city to city. The government, the
media and parts of the population in Israel will do all that it can
to obliterate any memory of what was the power and faith of Gush
Many of the rabbinic leaders have turned to an event described in the
Talmud (Avoda Zara 18). Rabbi Hanina ben Teradion, when he was bound
by the Romans and burnt at the stake, was asked by his students,
“Master what do you see?”
He said, “I see parchment of Torah being burnt, but the letters are
blossoming and floating into the air.”
You can destroy parchment and bricks, but you cannot destroy the
spirit. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is engaged in almost superhuman
efforts to raze the flourishing settlements into the ground. He tried
to destroy the synagogues, despite the pleas of large segments of
Israel’s population and of the Jews of the world. He has become
obsessed with wiping out any remnant of his crime, like the psychotic
franticly wiping his hands of imaginary blood.
Yet, very few people are taking off their orange streamers.
The vast majority of faithful Zionism today is in the midst of
mourning and mutual comfort. They will take the time to heal the
wounds inflicted by an uncaring secular administration; yet, they
will not give up on their vision. More importantly, they will not
give up on the potential for vision laying dormant in the hearts of
the less faithful segments of our community.
Glimpses of that potential were clearly evident in the midst of the
destruction. A policewoman saw that I had stationed myself with a
sign at an intersection near S’derot after being warned by the local
police commander to leave. She called me over to her police car. I
expected another demand or a threat. She said quietly that G-d should
bless us for what we were trying to do, and that if I stood a little
to the right, then I could get away with it.
As my nephew was being dragged out of one the synagogues in Gush
Katif, the helmeted policeman bent over and said to him, “Kol
Hakavod, we are with you. Don’t give up.”
One of the police commanders came up to Rabbi Elon, the dean of
Yeshivat HaKotel, and said to him that the most dramatic and
emotional moment of this period occurred after they had cleared out a
synagogue of protesters. The commander went back into the synagogue
and found several of his men sprawled on the floor in front of the
empty Aron Kodesh (the Ark), weeping.
While it is true that there were examples of cruelty and of hatred on
the part of some of the commanders and their policemen, the instances
of sympathy and even affection seemed to be more the rule.
One might ask: if there were so many stories of brotherhood like
these, then how did these same people also participate in the
expulsion and destruction?
It takes great courage to be what you need to be. It takes a nurtured
and faithful soul to do what your soul truly desires. It takes great
vision to see beyond the fog raised by slogans and half-truths
spouted by the local and world media. It takes a burning Jewish heart
to truly act in accordance with your destiny.
Yet, every single member of the larger Jewish community, which has
survived thousands of years of oppression, recognizes truth when it
burns before them. That explains the heartfelt statements of people
in the midst of them doing things in total contradiction to their
words. That explains the sea of orange streamers in a country the
media likes to portray as being in favor of the expulsion.
The Jerusalem Talmud describes our sages looking over into the
horizon as the dawn began burst into morning. Thus, will be the
redemption of Israel, like the dawn. It will come slowly at first and
then burst into glorious light.
I wonder if, as the sages looked into the skies, they didn’t see a
haze of orange on the horizon.
by Moshe Kempinski