While the world reels from the news of the Paris massacre, millions of observant Jews the world over will not know what has happened until after sundown Saturday night.
That is because during our Sabbath, which begins shortly before sunset on Friday and ends after sundown on Saturday, observant Jews do not listen to radio, watch TV, use the computer, or do anything besides pray, share festive meals, study Torah (our sacred texts), and rest.
Clearly, I’m not observant at this time.
But when I was, I remember emerging from the Sabbath bubble on Saturday night to hear of one or another horrible acts of mass destruction.
I can only imagine the terror, the overburdened communication services as Jews fly to the phones, Skype, email, etc, to try to locate family and friends in Paris, on Saturday night.
This is what the terrorists want. They want terror! And they will keep getting what they want, as long as we keep giving it to them.
A good friend, who will not know about the Paris massacre until tomorrow night, said this to me yesterday:
There are two ways to think about the problem. There is the Saul way, and there is the David way.
Saul said, “No, we can’t possibly fight the Philistines! There are too many of them! They are giants! They are demanding that we send out our best hero, and we don’t have any hero to send out!”
David said, “Fuck a bunch of that. My God is all the hero I need.”
Even if you don’t believe in such a thing as a God (I’m not sure), it’s crucial to look at things from David’s point of view. Are we going to let ourselves be globally bullied in the name of political correctness, or are we going to demonstrate to those who would kill us that it’s really not worth the trouble?
We are stuck between the fire and the frying pan in a lot of ways.
The late Walt Kelly, creator of the comic strip Pogo, once wrote, “We have met the enemy, and they are us.” I quote this often, because I believe it’s a risk we take when we react to violence with violence.
Another problem is that when dealing with an enemy for whom the best possible outcome is to become a “martyr” (in quotes because dying for one’s beliefs historically does not include taking innocent lives with you), paying violence back with violence simply fans the flames.
On the other hand, doing nothing, or trying to broker peace by means of words, does not buy peace. Our enemies see this as weak.
It seems that no matter what we do, no matter how easy we make it, how many doors are opened, there is a large and growing faction that now is not content merely to murder Jews and become martyrs. This new “caliphate” actually DOES want to take over the world.
When IS first raised its head the world laughed. How could a handful of rabid extremists do more than blow themselves up in town squares in Syria?
The world is not laughing now. More and more disaffected youth from every part of the world are going into training camps to become IS fighters. Young women willingly travel to Syria to marry fighters and make more of them. Girls are kidnapped, raped, and forced to marry IS fighters, to make more of them.
Americans watch TV and say, “That’s on the other side of the world. It has nothing to do with us. It’s a passing thing.”
I watch the Western world’s reaction to the growing violence, and I think of the same reaction during the run-up to World War II, the outrageous rounding up of Roma, gays, Catholics, and, of course, Jews. No one could believe that this was happening, because it was unbelievable.
When I speak this way, people shout me down, accuse me of being a pessimist, a Chicken Little, tell me this is a whole different thing, a tempest in a teapot, etc.
But it’s not.
It’s the same thing, different day, and this time it’s not just the Jews (although it seems that anytime is open season on Jews).
So I ask you…is Goliath really so big nowadays that one mighty force cannot destroy him?
Tell me what you think. I’m listening, and I’m afraid.