Over this past week, I’ve received over a dozen emails from various Jewish websites reporting on the fires in Israel. Without fail, each of these websites was sure to include a donate button to be activated by the reader. Even though I have no idea how successful these organizations will be in raising money, I do know of other donations that have been forthcoming.
I know that countries such as Cypress, Greece, Croatia, Italy and Turkey have sent firefighting planes as well as firefighting teams to Israel. Even Russia and the United States, the two world superpowers, have stepped up with the latter dispatching a 747 supertanker to help douse the flames. Why, even the Palestinian Authority has dispatched some of its firetrucks to assist Israel!
I know that this is one instance where the pagan prophet Balaam, hired by King Balak to curse Israel was dead wrong. Balaam’s prophesy “…it is a people that dwells alone, not reckoned among the nations” simply does not hold water when it pertains to the out of control conflagration threatening Israel.
Could Israel have handled the situation single-handedly? Undoubtedly, yes! But it would have taken much more time, at a much higher cost to the nation, with many more innocent lives being jeopardized. Could one have envisioned such a scenario with all these countries arriving in Israel to be of assistance during the first few decades of Israel’s existence? Highly unlikely! Perhaps then, a shehechiyanu is order – the short five word version beginning with the word shehechiyanu itself.
I know that there is a sermon in here somewhere. Despite horrific instances spanning two millennia, where our people have met their death through fire courtesy of the enemy, we are a people whose existence is defined by fire. Every Friday just prior to sunset, fire fills our homes to announce the arrival of Shabbat. Just as each Saturday night, fire fills our homes to announce the beginning of a new work week. In a little over three weeks’ time, Jewish homes throughout the world will light up for eight consecutive nights. While I in no way wish to diminish the latest dangerous threat to confront Israel, fire is seen much more often by Jews as a blessing rather than a curse. And seeing foreign firefighting aircraft over Haifa as well as other parts of the country responding to Israeli command is a blessing!
I know that there is a silver lining to the acrid clouds of smoke descending upon Israel. Believe it or not the Biblical quote: “Cast your bread upon the waters” is one of ours. It is taken from Sefer Kohelet or the Book of Ecclesiastes. For the longest time Israeli rescue teams have been among the first to arrive and lend a hand in other countries when disaster strikes. This might very well be the first time where the “debt” is being repaid, with other countries lending a helping hand to Israel. It’s nice to see a positive spin on the aphorism “what goes around comes around”.
May Israel never find itself in such a position again.