ט״ו באב, תשע״ה
July 31, 2015
Do not murder. Do not murder a baby in its sleep. Do not murder people who are proud to be who they are. If you take nothing else from all of Jewish law and tradition, take this simple imperative:  Do Not Murder.

Early Friday morning, the homes of two Palestinian families in the West Bank village of Douma were firebombed, and the words, "Long live Messiah the King" and "Revenge” were painted on the walls. An 18-month old baby was burned to death. The baby's parents and 4-year-old brother are fighting for their lives in the hospital, with burns covering 70-90 percent of their bodies.

Tomorrow morning we read Parshat Ve’ethanan and will hear, for a second time, the 10 commandments. This reading could not come at a more appropriate time, when apparently there are those in the Jewish world who desperately need a reminder. Read Deuteronomy 5:17. It says it very clearly:  לֹא תִרְצָח - Do Not Murder.

Jews who feel that Jewish tradition compelled them to murder perpetrated this senseless act of hatred and violence. Nothing could be further from truth of Judaism, and it is our job as Jews and Zionists to stand up in the face of this evil and hatred. Our task must be to strive for a Zionism that is tolerant and open, respects life and human dignity, and strives for peace as its ultimate goal.

Tomorrow morning, when you read out loud the commandment to not murder, pause and add these names to a list for a special Mi SheBeirach, or prayer for healing:

Yarden Avichai Ben Shulamit
Shira Bat Mikah
Saad, Reham, and Ahmed Daobasa

These are the names of the survivors of the two attacks on Thursday and Friday. They are fighting for their lives simply because of who they are.

ARZA deeply mourns the victims of these acts of terror, and we pray for the recovery of all those injured. We are committed to continue efforts on all fronts to instill values of human dignity, respect and tolerance as a guiding principle in Israeli society.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv shows us that today, Tu B’Av according to the Talmud, was also called the day of “the breaking of the axe,” to recognize the ceasing of cutting down of trees to light fires on the Temple’s altar. Today, we commit to continued efforts to break the axe of violence so that no more victims be sacrificed on the altar of hatred. Murder in the name of Judaism or the Jewish people cannot be tolerated, and now is the time to come together across the entire political and religious spectrum to denounce this hateful act.

While finding opportunities to be hopeful are often difficult, we are encouraged by a visit of Jerusalem’s chief rabbi to the hospital to offer words of encouragement to the victims, as he said, “this is a day for prayer and unity,” and then went on further to condemn the acts. We must voice our feelings to the government to do everything possible to push for change in the culture that produces such heinous acts.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli Defense Forces, the leadership of the Yesha Council, and many politicians from across the political spectrum have issued strong condemnations of this act, and we encourage them to work to get to the root of the cause of this hatred, which today resulted in senseless bloodshed.

Tomorrow morning when we read the Ten Commandments, take the time to discuss why we need the rules of our tradition. We need them to speak strongly against all those who find it acceptable to break the most basic of laws: Do Not Murder. When Jews murder in the name of Judaism we all bow our heads in shame and in mourning, for this is a loss both for Jews and for Judaism.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Josh Weinberg           
President, ARZA                         
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