Saturday, September 04, 2004

Parshat & Haftarat Ki Tavo: In memory of the victims of terrorism

In this parsha, we read a quote that’s now part of our seder: “A wondering Aramean was my father, and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and he became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians dealt ill with us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage. And we cried unto the L-rd our G-d, the G-d of our fathers, and the L-rd heard our voice, and saw our affliction, and our toil, and our oppression. And the L-rd brought us forth out Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders (Deuteronomy, chapter 26, verses 5-8).”

How did we get from there to here: Just a few months ago, a mother and all of her children are shot at point-blank range in their car, the toddler still strapped in her child-safety seat; just a few days ago, two buses traveling in opposite directions in Beersheva are blow up mere seconds apart when they’re about a hundred feet from one another, killing 16, including a four-year-old, and injuring 100? I’m not traditional enough to accept a literal interpretation of the curses in Parshat Ki Tavo that suggest that our suffering is punishment for our sins.

These verses from Haftarat Ki Tavo practically jumped off the page at me this morning: “Violence will no more be heard in your land, desolation nor destruction within your borders . . . (Isaiah, chapter 60, verse 18).” Halevaï—it should only happen! The prophet expressed my hope for the coming year: “Your people will all be righteous, they will inherit the land forever (Isaiah, chapter 60, verse 20).” Bi-m’héra, b’yaménu, b’karov—Speedily, in our day, soon.


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