Magazine article Tikkun

The Lord Is a Man of War?

Magazine article Tikkun

The Lord Is a Man of War?

Article excerpt

Since Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, I've found myself weeping in the most unlikely places. At a performance of Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, when a mother whose son has been killed in the Troubles beseeches the Blessed Virgin to "Take away our hearts of stone, give us hearts of flesh," my tears instantly bridged the gulf from Dublin, 1922 to Tel Aviv, 1995. The ancient quarrel between hearts of stone and hearts of flesh has claimed one more notable victim. When will we learn? And what will we learn?

In confronting lethal hate vented as political violence, what is an appropriate response How do we avoid demonizing the demonizers? I found myself searching Jewish history for precedents--not for the slaying of one Jew by another (the Bible has plenty of that), but for the rationale by which a nation of priests allows itself to spawn executioners. It cannot be that the people whose birth is retold at every Passover Seder inherited freedom merely to turn the hand of cruelty against one another. "Slaves were we to Pharaoh in Egypt," and despite three thousand Seders we still carry in our hearts the grudges of an oppressed culture, amplified by centuries of persecution, carved into a law the desperate among us mistake for God's. …

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