On the one hand, Jews throughout the world were reading in synagogue the Prophetic vision of Zechariah, no stranger to exile and humiliation, writing from the midst of the Babylonian Captivity 2500 years ago and looking forward to the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and the relighting of its Menorah --- both of which had been destroyed by Babylonian militarism.
This rebuilding and relighting, Zechariah proclaimed, must be achieved not by mobilizing might and power against Babylonia but by drawing on the Infinite Spirit, God's power. A vision reinforced by the Rabbis who chose the passage to be read on the holy day that might easily fall into a celebration of the military might and power of the Maccabees.
On the other hand --- on the very same day!! -- at least 225 Palestinians were killed by Israeli bombs in one more attempt to quell by might and power the use of violence (on a much smaller scale) by Hamas, in what Hamas sees as itself a retaliation against the Israeli blockade and semi-starvation of the people of Gaza.
There is plenty to bewail and plenty to examine in the details of this crossroads-moment in the history between our two Families of Abraham. Tonight (Saturday night) I cannot gather the strength to do this -- having just, after a pleasant Shabbat of synagogue and family dreidling, discovered this crushing news. We will look more deeeply together into these choices, in the next several days.
But what I can do now is simply ask us all to face the choices, to experience the deadly vertigo of choice between these choices.
A hard but necessary moment to send you the blessings of shalom, salaam, peace. --- Arthur
"Not by Might, and not by Power --- but by My Breathing Spirit, says YHWH Infinite." -- Zechariah 4: 6.
OR -- New York Times, December 27, 2008:
"GAZA - Waves of Israeli airstrikes destroyed Hamas security facilities in Gaza on Saturday in a crushing response to the group's rocket fire, killing more than 225 - the highest one-day toll in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in decades.
"The center of Gaza City was a scene of chaotic horror, with rubble everywhere, sirens wailing, and women shrieking as dozens of mutilated bodies were laid out on the pavement and in the lobby of Shifa Hospital so that family members could identify them. The dead included civilians, including several construction workers and at least two children in school uniforms.
"Dozens of rockets struck southern Israel after the airstrikes in Gaza, sending residents underground. One man was killed in the town of Netivot, the first death from rocket fire since it intensified a week ago, and four were wounded.
"Israeli military officials said the airstrikes, which went on into the night, were the start of what could be days or even months of an effort to force Hamas to end its rocket barrages into southern Israel. The operation could include ground forces, a senior Israeli security official said."