For the past three weeks, we held out hope that the three Israeli teens who were abducted by terrorists on June 12th would be found alive: #bringbackourboys
Yesterday, we were shocked and grief-stricken to learn that they had been killed within a short time of their kidnapping.
What kind of world do we live in when innocent teens become pawns in terrorist warfare? When the lives of young students have no value?
In this week’s Torah portion Balaak (Numbers 22: 2-25:9), the king of the Moabites wanted to curse the Israelites for being too numerous. He was fearful that they would overtake his land and eventually, his people. He calls upon the prophet Balaam to curse them. Then, God intervenes. Ultimately, when Balaam opens his mouth, words of blessing pour forth: “Ma tovu ohalecha Ya’acov, mish’k’notecha Yisra’el – How goodly are your tents o Jacob, your dwelling places o Israel.”
There are always those who want to cause harm and destruction to the Jewish people. There are always those who will go out of their way to wreak havoc and cause us great pain and anguish. But ultimately God’s blessing will be with us, because we value LIFE above all else. We are a religion that celebrates and affirms life no matter what life sends our way. And because of this, the Jewish people has survived and thrived. We are a people of great fortitude and stamina. With God by our side, we can persevere.
I join with people in Israel and all over the world in mourning the tragic deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar. May their families find comfort and strength in the loving embrace of community and family and friends.
May we come to know a time of peace when children can walk in the streets freely – without fear, without bloodshed, without violence.
As we mourn these unfinished lives, let us pray that that cycle of violence ends. Let us pray for a time of peace for all of God’s children.
Od yavoh shalom aleinu, v’al kulam – let peace come upon us and upon everyone. Speedily and in our time. Amen.