This is a tale of two cultures. A culture that shields its people, and a culture that uses its people as shields. A culture that puts life ahead of everything, and a culture that glorifies death. A culture that considers life to be God’s gift, and a culture that considers a martyr’s death to be what God desires.
With Israel now at war with Hamas in Gaza, as soldiers die in the field, as terror continues to rain on Israeli cities, as innocents perish in the conflict, let us talk about life and death – specifically about the preciousness of life and the glorification of death, and what the Torah has to say about it.
In Hebrew, a bomb shelter is called a miklat – literally meaning a “refuge.” This week, the Torah speaks of the first arei miklat, “cities of refuge,” where those who accidentally took a life could find shelter.
What can we learn from these “cities of refuge” about life and death, about good and evil, about protecting what is pure and holy, and about destroying terrorism and a culture of murder?
We can learn everything. All we have to do is open the book and read God’s words:
And you shall not corrupt the land in which you live, for the blood corrupts the land, and the blood which is shed in the land cannot be atoned for except through the blood of the one who shed it. And you shall not defile the land where you reside, in which I dwell, for I am the Lord who dwells among the Children of Israel.
It is Shabbat Chazak. And we shall fight mightily for life. The alternative is not an option.