"From Moshe till Moshe, there arose none like Moshe." (famous Jewish folk saying)

Friday, November 24, 2006

I did not stand for Olmert. Was I wrong?

Last evening, I had the privilege of participating in the OU Convention in Jerusalem. It was great to see many of my old friends, colleagues and supporters. I was there in an informal capacity for my new work and dinners and conventions are what I do best. But I found myself in a very interesting position. The OU brings people from across North America and Canada to Israel. Dignitary after dignitary welcomed the OU conventioneers and delegates to Israel. But I live here so they were not welcoming me. And when the talk was about encouraging Aliya, well, we did that! But that’s not what I am thinking about.

Because the OU in the largest Orthodox Jewish organization many politicians are invited to extend greetings. They Mayor of Jerusalem, Chief Rabbis, Former Ambassadors to the UN, heads of the Jewish Agency among a distinguished list. It has also been the tradition and quite appropriate, for the Prime Minister to extend greetings as well. The security was intense and there was a lot of discussion as to the reception Prime Minister Olmert would receive. It would be cold. It should be cold. You can read about it here. I for one was thinking of walking out. Or maybe, I would yell something out. But I’m not one to make a scene. It’s not my style. Plus, there were some very large bald men, with dark sunglasses, with wires coming out of their ears (my father always says they dress this way to look inconspicuous) positioned around the room ready to pounce on intruders and protesters.

Now Olmert is the elected leader of a democracy, our democracy. I can’t figure out how the guy got elected but that’s not for now. He may or may not have the status of a melech/king and there are halachik issues regarding seeing a king or in this case, a head of state. One might say a bracha/blessing but I was not going to do that. Out of respect one should stand in his presence but I decided in the moment, that I as not going to do that either. I may have been wrong. If I could have called a posek at that moment, I may have received the answer that I should stand. But in that moment, I could not bring myself to stand in his honor or out of respect. People around me stood. I did not. And I did not clap either. It would have been hypocritical to the way I feel.

Someone came over to me after the PM finished and said they noticed my silent protest and wanted to know why. And I shared the following with him. And as I said this and I as I write this, tears well up in my eyes.

We made Aliya 3+ years ago. We came to this country, our country by choice to enhance our Jewish life and the life our children. We know there would be sacrifices, we prepared and we continue to prepare for them. We have no regrets and we have a wonderful life here. Please G-d our oldest child, and our only son will graduate high school this year. Some time in the near future (after Mechina or Hesder) he will have the distinguished honor to serve in the Israel Defense Force. To defend our homeland our people and our future. He is eager to enlist. He is willing to serve.

Please understand that the source of his enthusiasm does not come from the hatred of our enemy, but because he has love for this land. From that love is where we derive our strength.

It has been the tradition of the IDF since its inception to give parents the assurance that no matter what happens, no matter what the price, they will always bring our boys home. The IDF has always assured parents of our brave boys that if G-d forbid, they pay the ultimate sacrifice; Israel will always be their final home. If my son goes to war, and G-d forbid something happens, I need to trust that everything will be done to bring him home. I don’t trust that Olmert honors this important fundamental principal of our country. 3 of our boys are missing. We went to war to bring them home and we did not finish the job. We lost many of our boys, to many of our boys in this battle and we did not finish the job. 3 of our boys are still missing. Alive or dead and we have not brought them home. I know enough about the diplomatic process to know that there is more going on than we see, hear and know about. But Kassams are falling on S’darot, 100 this week alone! And no response! Nasralla claims victory and Hezbola is rearming in the north. And there are mothers, fathers, siblings and wives who want their boys to be brought home. As a father, I’ll respect and trust the person who brings them home, their ultimate home. When my son goes off to war, that will give me strength.
Well said. Stay the course...
I am not a fan of george w. bush for many reasons - but i wouldnt sit if he entered the room. i might choose to purposely not shake his had, but would not refuse to stand.
eliyahu hanavi stood for achav
and moshe rabaynu gave kovod for paro
Lets suffice it to say that I may have reasonable self esteem, but I am certainly no Moshe Rabanu or eliyahu hanavi. Additionally, I in reference to the previous comment, I did not sit when he came in as if I was standing before he came in. I was sitting and just did not get up.
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