One of the jobs of a nation's leader is to talk tough and talk loud. He (or she) has to say things that sound stern and important and their words are supposed to make their enemies think twice about engaging in battle while convincing their allies that they've made the right choice in aligning their national interests. The truth is that Benjamin Netanyahu knows how to speak amazingly well. Sometimes, he speaks to his own people; sometimes he speaks to our friends. Sometimes, he speaks to our enemies and sometimes, perhaps at the greatest of times, he speaks not so much to us, but for ALL of us. And not just the Jews who are alive today, not just those who live in Israel.
Like most Israelis, I have a love/hate relationship with him. At times, I hate his politics; often, I love his words. So yesterday, Bibi turned to our enemies in Iran, who have promised that they will do all they can to obliterate our homeland. He spoke in words that they would understand. Simple, clear, direct, "Don't threaten us, we are not a rabbit. We are a tiger. If you threaten us you endanger yourself."
I would have preferred that he said that we were lions but I'll take the tiger reference. It's a good one for a leader to use. Majestic. Strong. Noble. Okay, I'll take the tiger.
And two days ago, as I drove home through the wind and rain of the latest storm to hit Israel, I realized something. I live my life with little concern for Iran. No, I am not stupid. No, I do not think the threat from Iran can or should be ignored. I think it is very real and as Elie Wiesel (of blessed memory) once said, "When someone says they want to kill you, believe them." I believe the Iranians want to destroy Israel.
I also believe they'll never be able to do it. Not because they won't try. They might. But they won't succeed. Why do I believe this? There is a concept in my religion "Emunah shlayma." It is translated as "complete faith." It means that you believe something to the level of having no doubt. Zero.
I believe, with complete faith, that Israel is eternal. That Jerusalem is our holy city (no, that doesn't mean it can't be holy to others - that's politics, not belief). I believe that love does conquer all. I really do.
To put this in simpler terms, here's an example. I believe in the sun. There will be sunshine brightening our world. Maybe not today, perhaps even not tomorrow, but the sun is there, just waiting to return and shine over our world. We just have to have the faith to remember that on the darkest, stormiest days and nights of our lives. It doesn't take faith to believe in the sun because we know it is there; we've all seen in.
And yet, the very people who will tell you that there can be no scientific doubt that the sun is there and will be there tomorrow, might well question the future of Israel. Don't. Really. Don't.
Israel is as eternal as the sun. Really. An integral part of God's creation - the sun, Israel. Wait, maybe those people don't believe in God...that's another whole post that I'll probably never write.
So let me say this, for those of you who DO believe in God, don't worry. Take revenge. Revenge for the slaughter of millions. Revenge for tens of thousands of rockets fired at Israel's cities. Revenge for the unprovoked attacks - the stabbings, the rammings, the explosions, the stoning attacks, and shooting ambush attacks... Take revenge for the blood that has been spilled here in this holy land and in countless cities around the world.
We deserve revenge. And, guess what...we have it.
I think Israel's greatest revenge is that despite all of our history...or perhaps because of it...we have learned that the greatest revenge of all is simply to live as happy as we can, as free as we can. Ultimately, what our enemies will probably never realize is that our greatest gift isn't even the tiger Bibi mentioned, but rather the simple act of waking up this morning and every morning, here in our land.
My revenge today is that each weekday, my grandchildren climb out of their warm beds and their parents, my children, help them dress and go to nursery school. That my middle son is awaiting the birth of his first child; that my youngest son is serving in an army my great grandfather could only dream would exist one day, and that my youngest daughter goes to school each day close to the city of our fathers and yesterday came home to spend the Sabbath here in our home overlooking Jerusalem on one side, the Judean desert on the other.
My revenge yesterday was that I went to visit with my parents, who just celebrated 60 years of marriage. And my revenge is that my kitchen is filled with food, for all the times they tried to starve us; that yes, my husband and sons are armed, for all the generations we were left defenseless.
But my greatest revenge of all is simply the act of living. We, who cherish and celebrate life, we are the tigers and lions and people of Judea. Eternal.