Peh-resh-samekh: Gilad Shalit - Individual versus Collective


By Rabbi Aaron Gol...
October 14, 2011
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Just like the leitmotif of the Exodus from Egypt that is mentioned in virtually every worship service for Jews, I am reminded of historical events linked to current day festivals every erev – evening – service, like last night that I read the Haskivenu prayer: Haskivenu, Adonai Elohaynu, l’shalom, v’hamidaynu malkaynu, l’chayyim. Ufros alaynu sukkat shlomekha. Grant, Eternal God, that we may lie down in peace and let us rise up to life renewed. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace...

...The flow of interpretation from peh-resh-sin to peh-resh-samekh, also provide potential for a dichotomy of emotions. This was illustrated by the reactions to the announcement of the impending release of Gilad Shalit, the IDF soldier held for over 5 years in Gaza, in exchange for 1027 Palestinians prisoners currently in Israeli prisons. It would be most poignant if the temporary shelter, the tent erected by his family in Jerusalem to serve as a constant reminder to the Israeli government of his detention would be able to come down by the close of Sukkot. What Hoshanah Rabbot – great songs of thanks to God would be sung on that day.

Yet the deal that has been struck provokes mixed emotions for the families of those whose relatives and friends were killed in terrorist attacks, some at the hands of Palestinian terrorists who will also be released. How can they feel that justice has been done?

We constantly strive with such contradictions in our lives. There are decisions that we constantly make that result in actions that benefit those who shelter under our immediate protection. There are decisions we support that benefit those of our own Community, People or Country but are aware that the benefit may not spread further. One can also lose heart that the minute portion of good that we might do is counterbalanced in global terms by the actions of a country...

For the full sermon see http://www.npls.org.uk/Sermons/New/Sukkot-5772.html

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