Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Isn't he Cute for a Murderer?"

By HaRav Yisrael Rosen
Dean of the Zomet Institute

"What is the meaning of 'Mount Sinai'? It is the place where 'hatred' by the nations descended to the world" [Shabbat 89a]. ("Sinai" has a sound similar to "sinah" – hatred.) 
The above title is not a direct quote, but it is the gist of the declaration by Michal Froman, who was stabbed by an Arab terrorist at her home in Tekoa. (Thank heaven, she was hospitalized after a "moderate" injury and has since been released.) "He was a boy about fifteen years old, with a nice-looking face... I felt close to him... He gave the impression that he had come to give a quick stab and then run away, to achieve some goal. He would be able to mark the deed with a 'check mark,' but he was not interested in killing me... Just stab-and-run. It enhanced my impression that he appeared to be lost." Michal's mother-in-law, Hadassa, said this about her daughter-in-law: "Michal tried to hug him and to help him..." 
Michal is the daughter-in-law of my unforgettable friend (who could refuse to be his friend?), the late Rabbi Menachem Froman, the rabbi of Tekoa. He was unique in all his behavior, thoughts, and actions. (In this case, the adjective "unique" is a synonym for "different.") Rabbi Froman constantly preached about the need for understanding and coexistence between Jews and Palestinians, with great emphasis on the populatino of the settlements and nearby Palestinian villagers. His ideological political approach was to hold discussions between rabbis and Moslem religious leaders, out of a belief and faith that they would be able to find solutions to the problems. In this matter he not only preached his ideas, he was very active. He met, he arranged meetings, he embraced, he explained, he listened, and he wrote, and he raised his hands to the sky in a Tanachic-Messianic pose (which was not faked but real for him). In my eyes and in the eyes of many others like me, his was a "voice in the Arab wilderness," which did not generate any return echo. We argued on various occasions, including a long television broadcast where we discussed his vision, at a time that was close to the expulsion from Gush Katif. 
The reactions by the battered-stabbed woman which appeared in the press correspond to the approach of Rabbi Menachem, who had an excessive measure of "love for mankind." The rule "a person should not be held responsible at a time that he is suffering" [Bava Batra 16a] refers in the original to expressions of anger and rage. I would also apply this statement to delusional declarations of love and embracing as a result of traumatic incidents. This would include a scene of a battered creature which kisses the end of the whip that is stretched out in front of it. I would expand this to a slightly different aspect and say, a person should not be held responsible at a time that he is being struck, both for the bad and for the good. To round out the family picture, I will quote the son-husband, Shivi Froman, who spoke in a more balanced manner: "What we need is an unyielding struggle against these agents of death, and we should expel their families to Azza. On the other hand, we will enhance the lives on our side and for the Palestinians. Life will triumph over death." I agree with every word he said, but I say that the context is warped by a very strong leftist affinity – we must show understanding for the other side, in any situation, at any price. As far as I am concerned, this type of statement can follow a (crooked) solid line to the traitorous acts of some leftist activists, who have recently been exposed taking part in deep dark activity. These people understand the hearts of the enemy, who is right – and even nice. 
The Use of Religion to Enhance a Dispute
And here we have an opportunity to look at Rabbi Froman's vision about the role of religious leaders in the current struggle between Israel and the Palestinians. He believed that religious leaders from both sides, are in a position that can lead to more restraint and a closer approach, and that they (alone) have the power to bring calm and to achieve dual existence in this land. Who will remove the earth that covers your eyes, my brother and colleague Rabbi Menachem, so that you will see how humanity as a whole has reached a state of danger of self-destruction just because of the religion of Islam. World terrorism, flowing with blood, is fed by heightened levels of religion, and their wars against infidels, Israel, and the Western World are waged in the name of "Allah the merciful." Unimaginable atrocities are performed in the shadow of the Moslem half crescent, and the enthusiasm of the suicide murderers grows on a bed of religious incitement. And the false premise of dragging the El-Aktza Mosque into the focus of the struggle shows how the focus has purposely been moved in the direction of ecstatic Islam. 
And we must also admit the truth on our side. Rabbis, and religion in general, are not elements that add to restraint. Sometimes the opposite is true. Transferring the Israeli-Palestinian struggle from the realm of nationalism and Zionism to the realm of Torah and religion does not help to decrease the intensity of the flames. The Torah itself, which is part of the basis for the settlement activity in Yehuda and the Shomron, provides added texture to general Zionism, but in no way does it call for violent and bloody actions. The anarchistic hilltop youths do not represent any segment of religious Judaism. Islam and only Islam is forcing on the world a culture of religious wars and jihadi destruction, following the direct orders of murderous religious leaders. Rabbi Menachem Froman found a number of "liberal" Islamic religious leaders at the margins of the camp, who spoke of peace and who were "nice." They are a mirror image of rabbis-for-peace-at-any-price who are at the margins of the Jewish camp. On both sides of the struggle, these people are not significant at all! 
I am not an expert in the approach of the late Rabbi Shagar, who was a modern Torah thinker in our Torah-Zionist camp. I have been told by one of his followers that he used to say that the slogan "we will triumph by love" is flawed at its very basis. Love is not a weapon used to obtain victory but rather a tool for surrender... 

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