Another Reaction from Jerusalem (Ideas #24)

In view of the rash of responses to the most recent catastrope, I was planning to still my pen and let others do the talking. Yet, in spite of all the meaningful things that have been writen, it seems that something very significant has not yet been committed to paper.


In the next few days a very significant statistic will come out - the number of American Jews killed in the terrorist attacks of this past week. Given the large concentration of Jews in New York and especially in the finacial district, it stands to reason that many of those who died were, in fact, Jewish. One need not be a statistical genius to realize that this number will greatly exceed the number of Jews killed in Israel this past year. This painful fact has very important implications.


First and foremost, it gives all-too-palpaple credence to what we in Israel have long been telling our relatives in the Diaspora, that we feel no less secure than they. Secondly and as always has been the case, there is no such thing as absolute security. Granted, one can do certain things to maximize one's security but it is never an absolute proposition. Given that this is the case, every person must decide what values require us to take risks.


At the end of a moving first-hand account by survivor Adam Mayblum, he indicates that Americans are willing to pay "the ultimate be free, to decide where to work, what we want to eat and when and where we want to go on vacation". For better or worse, he accurately describes the ultimate beliefs of most Americans today. A Jew must decide if these are the values that will bring him to take risks.


I certainly don't want to die a violent premature death, but if it has to be, let be in Jerusalem making a statement about my values, about our values. The halacha tells us that a Jew does not risk his life in order to have the right to choose what to eat - a Jew even eats non-kosher in order to save his life. The same halachic system tell us that Jews do risk their lives in order to lay claim to our homeland.


I am a religious Zionist. I believe that our people has at least as much of a right to an ancestral homeland as any other. Our people needs to be here to more effectively spread the message of morality and holiness that has always been our raison d'etre. "Ki miTzion tetse Torah..." (for out of Zion will come the Torah.) For this, we take risks. For this, we choose to live here. There are some legitimate reasons for Jews not to move to Israel - personal security, however, is not one of them.


In the last twelve months, we have helplessly watched many of our brethren in America cancel visits or prohibit their children from coming to study. They have shown our enemies that our right to be here is not something for which they are prepared to take risks.


American Jewry needs to reexamine its ultimate values - for which the worthiest they must take risks. Whatever the conclusions, let us hope we never again hear that personal security is preventing Jews from coming to Israel.