|Israelis “Making Life”|
Later Jewish sages expanded on this basic concept, allowing even the violation of the Sabbath—a transgression that itself was considered a capital offense—in order to save a life. Indeed, Sabbath restrictions could be disregarded not only to save a life, but even to provide comfort for somebody whose life was in jeopardy, such as a woman in labor (BT Shabbat 129a).
What is truly amazing is the value that Jews continued to place on life, even after centuries of oppression, expulsion, and slaughter. One might easily imagine a desire for revenge, born of righteous outrage, would ignite the passions of those who had suffered generation after generation of injustice. After all, the very same book that tells us to “choose life” also instructs “Justice! You shall pursue justice.” (Deut. 16:20)
Interestingly (to me, at least), the injunctions to choose life and to pursue justice are each followed by the qualifying phrase “that you may live.” Jewish tradition links the two concepts, tying them both to the idea that the ultimate goal is the continuity of life. Even justice, which sometimes may appear to demand the death of another, can only be achieved if it is pursued with the ultimate goal of cherishing and preserving life.
In contrast, Israel's enemies exalt death. Hamas educates its children to die for the cause. Iran used children to clear minefields, wrapping them in blankets so the explosions wouldn't scatter their body parts. And all over the Arab world, the “shahid”—“martyr”—who dies while taking the lives of Jews, is celebrated and adored.
After September 11th, many of us asked how we can defeat an opponent so corrupted that he eagerly plans to die for his cause, an opponent so brainwashed that he believes that the life that awaits him after his act of murder is many times better than that which he surrenders as a result. We choose to live: can we possibly overcome a foe who chooses to die?
|Research in Israel: Targeting Cancer|