Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad is Coming Home, And it Doesn't Make Sense

Common sense -- and math -- say that 1,000 is greater than 1.

But we don't live in a world where common sense is the norm. We all do stupid things, ridiculous things, incomprehensible things that we can't explain but that we know, we feel, is right.

You can't tell me that anyone -- anyone -- is completely set on the decision of the release of one man for 1,000 killers, terrorists, and murderers being either absolutely right or absolutely wrong. Because common sense can't, and doesn't, make sense when it comes to Gilad Shalit and his more than five years captive by Hamas being traded for a veritable army of people out to return and destroy Israel and all that it stands for.

But something about it, something inexplainable, feels absolutely necessary. Maybe that's the Jew in all of us? The Talmud teaches us that when Adam was created, he was the entire population of the world. Adam was peoplehood. We are commanded to view each individual as that same peoplehood and thus that to save one life is as if you have saved the entire world.

Perhaps it's too obscure or abstract for us to understand how trading 1,000 criminals to save the life of one Jewish man is as if we have saved the entire world, but I think it can be explained, and not in the abstract.

Bringing Gilad Shalit home to his family, to his country, and to his people sends a sign to the world -- the world that hates Israel and Jews, and the world that supports us -- that Israel leaves no man behind, not for anything. A single life is important enough to defend and fight for, that we will give all that we have -- even the possibility of these criminals returning to destroy us -- to save a single soul. I think that is a powerful message, a message that what we are fighting for, what Israel is fighting for, is so much bigger than land or food or independence. Israel, and Jews everywhere, are fighting for humanity. 

And, I can only hope that someone reminds those released prisoners -- every day, for the rest of their lives -- that had Hamas not had a bargaining chip, a human life with which to make demands, they would not be in Gaza or the West Bank or Egypt or anywhere else but in prison. Hamas couldn't care less about the souls of prisoners in Israel prisons. They just wanted to make Israel suffer, to inflict a nebulous sense of pain that Israel can and will triumph over. The lack of respect for human life should echo in the minds of Palestinians everywhere.

So I'm going to stay up, and I'm going to wait to know, for sure, without a doubt, that Gilad Shalit is in Israel, on Israeli land, safe and moving on with his life. His life will never be normal. And for that, I cannot express the grief it brings me.

It might not feel right, but it is right. In my heart of hearts, I know that this is right. Whatever comes after, we will handle as a peoplehood. It doesn't make sense, but when it comes to most things Jewish and Israeli, you have to leave your common sense at the door.