Two small candles and a reminder
Updated: Oct 24
This would be a really good time for me to write a blog that goes viral. I could delve into the atrocities of war, the children, the beheading of babies and everything else about this past several two weeks that triggers everyone. I could write a motivational piece calling for real Americans to stand up and be counted as they form a circle hedge around their closest ally. I could write a heartfelt plea to those crowding streets around the country in support of Hamas asking them to stop and consider what it is they really stand for.
Not gonna do any of that.
The atrocities of war are now the fodder for the news media to use at will, to edit and to photoshop. For the first time in many years war, and by that I mean a real war, is in the spotlight and dominates the news cycle. Law enforcement, as if they did not have enough problems, are now on the alert for domestic threats as Hamas calls for reactions around the globe.
The surprise attack on Israel by Hamas has brought the militant group back into the spotlight, that is for sure. According to Hamas itself, the attack was over two years in the planning with only a handful of Hamas top leaders knowing the date chosen for the attack. In case you are wondering how we did not know and how this slipped by Israeli intelligence, I have no real answers except that Israel has been in a state of slight upheaval over new judicial legislations proposed and leadership struggles. In other words, they were simply not paying attention to what was important, but that is okay, we are not doing it either.
While Hamas called ahead, informing Turkey and Russia of the upcoming attack, we never got the call and have been so busy weaponizing our own judicial system and allowing our politicians to run amok like children in a bad neighborhood I am not sure we would have taken precautionary measures even if we HAD been on the Hamas “call before you attack” list.
In the attack, Hamas fighters flew paragliders from Gaza and used bulldozers to poke gaping holes in a barrier fence to gain access to Israeli territory. DJI drones filled the Israeli skies dropping incendiary devices at will. Hamas killed more than 1,000 people and seized at least 100 hostages.
It has become evident that Hamas is using its own Palestinian civilians as shields against the Israeli retaliation as they strategically place innocent people, mostly women and children from their own country, in places Israel will target such as military strongholds, weapons storage facilities, and Hamas. The placement of these human shields adds to the press Hamas can release each and every time Israel strikes.
Hamas was formed in 1987 at the start of the first Palestinian uprising, or intifada, against Israel. It is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Sunni Islamist group that first formed in Egypt. Hamas, the Arabic acronym for "Islamic Resistance Movement," wants to create a Palestinian state. It rejects any peace deal with Israel, which it refuses to recognize.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and a number of other Western countries as the group has only one goal and that is to destroy Israel and to murder Jews along with anyone that assists them.
The Islamist group has long been active in the Gaza Strip financed primarily by the Iranians.
Not all of Palestine is Hamas. As I said, Hamas is now holding captive their own people to use as human shields and as tinder for social media fires they hope to light as Israel moves toward a ground offensive. Israeli forces have been warning Gaza civilians to evacuate so that the return strikes can be focused on Hamas but the terrorist group has slammed the exit door shut.
As of this morning, the people of Israel stand strong, survivors of thousands of attacks over the centuries, they are a strong and powerful people. As they attempt to destroy Hamas, the Israeli government is acting in unison and with non-partisan directives and attitudes. The resolve is to win and this coming from people who are tired of a history of loss. Israel is not going to simply vanish from the earth but will use everything in their arsenal to retaliate, beat and eradicate.
According to senior Hamas official Ali Baraka, Iran not only is Hasas’ largest financial backer and Iran plans to extend the attacks utilizing Hezbollah have become quite evident.
Baraka explained that Hamas had deliberately projected themselves as a rational governing body to the rest of the world on purpose, all while planning the attacks that have thrown the Middle East back into war.
As the situation continues to worsen, Jews from all over the globe of every age are flocking to Israel. It is truly beautiful and frightening at the same time. Truly attached to and in love with their homeland and their heritage, thousands are gearing up to do their part.
One has to wonder where that resolve went in America. What happened to the love of a country and a heritage? Rather than unify under a fabulous and grand flag, we have chosen to belittle, disparage and even destroy that flag and the heritage of a country that survives its wars. It has been easier these past few years to destroy the monuments from those days than to gather around them and remember.
But the Jews remember. They remember what they were taught as children about the wilderness and the Pharaohs. They remember the battles like the war against the Midianites, the war against the Amalekites, defending themselves against the Canaanite kings. They remember the Battle of Jericho and they remember crossing the sea after leaving Rameses and slavery.
They also remember genocide of European Jews during World War II. They have not forgotten the years between 1941 and 1945 when Nazi Germany and its collaborators systematically murdered some six million Jews across German-occupied Europe, around two-thirds of Europe's Jewish population.
And with those memories and that heritage, they now respond to the attacks they suffered over two weeks ago and they will not stop responding. Their homeland and their heritage mean everything to them and while many around the world are spouting criticism and anger over the violence of the response, it is absolute in its resolve and intention.
At the same time, as Americans, we should be asking ourselves what we should be doing. To the right, we may consider stocking up on weaponry and ammunition. To the left perhaps we should form anti-war groups and denounce the violence.
Perhaps we should take a break from being left and right. It surely is not healthy for our country. Perhaps at this time we should gather our families and start to speak to our children about our heritage as a country, our heritage as families, and the direction we want to go in the future. Perhaps we should consider that very few of us would leave our overseas homes to return to America as missiles flew overhead just for the opportunity to operate a food line for soldiers.
Perhaps we should consider what has been happening in shelled-out homes across Israel and in Jewish homes around the world…
This past Friday, as the sun began to set, millions of children watched as their mother lit the Shabbat candles.
Originally, Shabbat candles served a very practical purpose as the Jews were forbidden to kindle fires on the Sabbath (or, Shabbat), so homes quickly grew dark during the 24 hour period of rest. With the advent of electricity, the background behind the practice has become more and more opaque, but there is beauty in the mystery. The practice itself holds meaning.
Imagine three main “attributes” of a flame. First, a flame gives off light that can illuminate the darkness. Second, if one stays close to it, a flame can keep you warm. Third, a flame can easily spread to another wick without compromising its own strength; the power of the fire only grows.
These past two weekends (or, Sabbaths), millions around the world, even those with rockets flying overhead, lit these candles acknowledging that each of us possesses a flame inside of us.
This inner flame can give off a light, or a clarity, to see through the darkness, stress, fear and worry that surrounds us.
Our Shabbat candles are not large and most are not. A small flame is enough to stave off darkness.
The Shabbat candles are also a symbol of our ability to spread our inner flame to others. It may be difficult to believe in this day of selfish aggression, but one can share their inner light, their inner warmth, their inner energy with someone else without diminishing their own. This transfer comes with a flash of blazing warmth and the more it happens, the more the darkness retreats.
In just a few days, Jews around the world and even those in a war zone will once again welcome the Sabbath with this symbolic and meaningful ritual that reminds them of their own importance as a part of their heritage. It is a time to pray for Israel, but more importantly, it is a moment where the heart and the mind are reconnected to its HOME.
In the ancient days when the temple still stood, it was not considered strange that a Gentile (non-Jew) should have a share in the service. We find in the Talmud (Menachos 73b) that if a Gentile brings his burnt offerings, they are accepted and offered on the altar.
Because of this, I challenge you to take a moment, whether it be as the sun sets this Friday or perhaps just another moment during the week, to remember and to say a short prayer. Take that moment to re-connect yourself with what you are, where you came from, and what struggles brought you here over the years, decades or perhaps even centuries. Remember that those struggles as well as the victories make up the heritage that is now inside of you.
That heritage includes this country and the principles it was founded upon. That heritage does not call for anger, hatred, racism or street violence. That heritage calls for empathy, sympathy, kindness, generosity, and understanding. That heritage calls upon us to travel the globe to fight for our country as a unified spirit until its enemies are vanquished, but it does not call for any of us to attack each other out of spite, jealousy, or judgement.
Whether it truly be Shabbat candles or it is a shared glass or meal with the family, find that moment. Remember that the picture of America that attracted millions was not a picture of its majestic mountains and endless streams, nor was it a picture of its capitalistic prowess. It was originally a picture of its people. We actually attracted people to us and we each shared our inner light, spreading it, growing it, sharing it.
Ask yourself if you are still an American or if you have chosen to just be part of America, for there is a difference. The inspiration of Israel’s people is powerful.