Sunday, March 9, 2008

A rest, and a realization.

I turned on the TV to the Southside Irish Parade here in Chicago -- a prideful, celebratory day of drunkenness and revelry to honor St. Patrick's Day (still a week or so off). I flipped a few channels away and I'm now watching the Jewish Americans on PBS. The portion celebrates the Jewish integration into American society in the 1950s. And then ...

I'm trying to figure out how I missed it. The massacre. The small scale destruction of my people, that surely represents the desires, the need for the complete destruction of my people. It happened on Thursday night, in Jerusalem. On the other side of the world, away from where I was. They were boys, mere children, studying in the library of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva when hundreds of rounds of ammo were sprayed, killing eight. The oldest was 26, the age of my older brother, the rest were 15 or 16, the age of my younger brother.
[The killer's] family said that although he had been intensely religious, he was not a member of any militant group, and he had planned on marrying this summer. But he had been transfixed by the bloodshed in Gaza, where 126 Palestinians died from Wednesday through Monday, his sister, Iman Abu Dhaim, told The Associated Press.
It is with this that I wonder, I rack my brain and clench my fists wondering -- WHY then? Why must you kill these youths to avenge the completely unrelated deaths of 126 Palestinians? Why, why would you target students!? Studying, over Torah, studying the historic texts of our people, and then there you are spraying bullets, murdering them. Murdering the learning. It boggles my mind, it shatters my spirit, it makes me scared. It reminds me that as a Jew, I am not safe, for there are those who wish to remove my mark from the map. It's the response to history, and it's the response to extremism. I'm still reading Constantine's Sword, watching as the Catholic Church permitted the destruction of Jews throughout the ages, and here in the present there are Islamic extremists who condone the destruction of the Jews. Will there be rest?

Sigh. I'm supposed to go Israel this summer. And still, I will go.

It devastates me to see this, and to not have seen it before Shabbat, and now I feel guilty that I did not know. That I could not reflect, think on, pray for the families of this situation. But I turned off and shut down on Shabbat and it was amazing. It was inspiring and reflecting and it makes you conscious of those other aspects of Shabbat that should be kept.

I did not use my phone, my computer, my iPod, and I did not write. I did not kindle a flame (despite wanting to light candles to create an aroma in the apartment). I read quite a bit, took a nap, went to a movie, and enjoyed silence and stillness. I turned on my television for 15 minutes, because briefly I was feeling a little pent up in the apartment. I realized how wasteful and pointless it was, so I shut it off. I became more conscious of aspects of Shabbat, like carrying money, carrying at all, turning the lights on and off, cooking. My mind was more at ease. And I have to say taking the day to turn off was outstanding, and I intend on continuing the trend (sans when my little brother is here, since, well, that's a complicated situation). I think that it will ease my mind, and it will allow me to calm myself a bit. I look forward to this ... and taking on more mitzvot in the process.

And now, the mourner's prayer, the Kaddish.