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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Tisha BAv, The Gaza Evacuation/Withdrawal, and getting caught in the rain.

Tonight is Erev Tisha B’Av and services are at 8PM at my shul. I’d been planning on going since I realized that it was coming up and I’ve been contemplating fasting. Tonight we are going to discuss some of the difficulties that reform jews have with this holiday of mourning. Good, cause I don’t understand it at all. I’m sure that later tonight I might have some comments.

Here is something that I learned this morning during services. The great thing about studying Torah is not that we study history and things that happen, but we learn lessons and study things that happen today. When Israel (the political state, the nation state) decided to hold off on the Gaza Withdrawal/Evacuation until after Tisha B’Av, they hoped that waiting until the three weeks of mourning were over–it might buy them more cooperation from the settlers.

They didn’t, it seems, take a look at the Torah section that is being studied by jews around the world this shabbat. It is the beginning of Devarim 1:1-3:22. Devarim (or you might know it as Dueteronomy) is Moses’s final speech, at the end of the book he dies. (Sorry to ruin the movie for you.) There are a number of times in the Torah that the biblical boundaries for Eretz Isreal are given, this parsha includes the largest boundaries given.

In this parsha (section of the Torah), the boundaries go all the way to the Euphrates River in Modern Day Iraq. TO IRAQ! So, the shabbat before the Gaza Evacuation, all the ultra-orthodox (and moderate, conservative, progessive, reform) jews are reading the portion of the Torah outlining the largest boundaries of Israel. Two days before the withdrawal (or evacuation) from Gaza.

The discussion we had was great. My Rabbi pointed out that historically for the jews, human rights have ALWAYS trumped property rights. This is one of the only cases, the settlers who are refusing to leave Gaza, where jews are allowing property rights to trump human rights. “He who saves one life, it is as if he saved all life. He who ends one life, it is as if he ended all life.” It is a commandmant, a mitzvah to save a life. Gaza withdrawal will save jewish lives and palestinian lives. The safety of the whole of Isreal will be greater by sacrificing the PROPERTY of a few. Something like 40,000 troops are used to protect 10,000 settlers.

Yes, I do have to try and understand that the settlers believe it is a mitzvah to live in Gaza. It is their religious duty, but it is also religious duty to save lives. Yours, your children, the children of Palestine. There is a quote, maybe Sadat said it, “I decided to love my children more than I hate yours.”

Towards the end of services, there was white noise. Could it be rain? Yes, yes it was. Lots of it. The shul started to flood a little (the doors are below street level) and I walked home in the pouring rain. If I hadn’t left when I did, I’d still be standing in the lobby instead of drying off at home. It is the second time this week that I’ve walked barefoot in the rain. I think it is really quite lovely to walk barefoot in the rain, even in the city. I haven’t cut my feet on anything and there isn’t any reason to run. It reminds me that I’m alive. Besides, we need the rain. It has given me a chance to turn off the AC and open the windows for some fresh air and the sound of rain is always fantastic.

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