I have had a daughter in Jerusalem all summer working as an intern. She comes home next week. Another daughter goes to Jerusalem for the year about two weeks later. People ask me if I am nervous. I do not hesitate for a moment, and say absolutely. That might sound like a kind of surprising response for a rabbi, but let me explain.
I am a parent. I worry when they go on dates or to the mall. I worry about everything. I love them, and when you love people it is reasonable to worry. I try not to let my worrying, though, stop them from living their lives in a good and important way.
That being said, I do worry about them in Israel, but I believe that Israel is completely and unhesitatingly worth it. We have seen a world without Israel and it is so much more terrible than anything that is happening today.
Even under a barrage of rockets, and even faced with terror tunnels that have burrowed into the consciousness of so many Israelis, Israel is functioning at a high level. People are going to work. They are helping their neighbors. They are buying food for their family and making a joyous Shabbat. They are fully and completely alive and not consumed by their fear. They are cautious, but they are not paralyzed, and they are deeply grateful for our brave boys and girls, and men and women of the IDF and are united in their support in ways that have not been seen since the 1967 Six Day War. I am in awe of the young people from our community and Adat Shalom who serve in the IDF and pray for their safety.
Rabbi Nachman said, Kol HaOlam Kulo Gesher Tzar Maod, the entire world is a narrow bridge, V’Haikar Lo L’Fached Clal, but the important thing is to not be overwhelmed by our fear. A little healthy caution and concern is appropriate, but not when it changes who you are or how you live your life.
Israel is involved in a terrible struggle. It has had to make tough decisions that few other armies have had to make. Hamas in fact knows that Israel is one of the very few countries in the entire region that will take morality into consideration when it makes a battle plan. Hamas thinks that is a weakness of Israel they can exploit. It is instead one of Israel’s greatest strengths, and one that will, I pray, allow Israel to live in peace and prosperity and ultimately be a model to the rest of the Middle East of democracy and freedom.
Israel is not perfect, but it is a miracle. There are few countries in the world like Israel. There are none that face its daily existential challenges.
So again, am I worried? Absolutely. But I am even more proud and grateful.
Am Yisrael Chai.