Wednesday, February 21, 2007


A Child Understands

My latest posting on the Israel National News "Back to Sanity" blog:

28 Shevat 5767, 2/16/2007

Do I tell him or not? Will he hear about it from some other source or not? And if I do tell him, what do I say? Do we discuss his feelings?
That was part of my internal debate when I heard about Arabs (and perhaps non-Arab supporters) uprooting thousands of trees planted by children from the B'nei Akiva youth movement in honor of Tu B'Shevat. My son, you see, had been part of that nationwide B'nei Akiva tree-planting campaign.

I realized that the trees that were targeted by the anti-Semitic vandals were not those my son had planted, for they were in a different part of the country, but they may as well have been. The Arabs who uprooted trees planted by Jews in the Hevron Hills would just as easily have uprooted trees planted by Jews in the Sharon Plain or in the Galilee, if they had the opportunity.

To the Arabs, those trees represent Jewish sovereignty, Jewish attachment to the land and Jewish continuity - especially when the tree saplings are themselves placed in the earth by young Jewish "saplings" growing free in the Land of Israel.

And you know what? They're right. That is exactly what they represent.

In my son's school and in B'nei Akiva, the kids learn about the origin of Tu B'Shevat in Jewish agricultural practices and Jewish law from the period of the First and Second Temples. Aside from the technical legal aspects gleaned studying the Mishnaic and Talmudic sources, there is a more subtly derived lesson: if Jews were discussing agricultural religious laws some 2,000 years ago, then that means that Jews were (and are) integral to this land.

A child educated in our ancient Jewish sources doesn't ask "why would they do that" when he hears about Arabs ripping up trees planted in the Hevron Hills; rather, he asks, "How dare they do that?"
A child educated in our ancient Jewish sources isn't fooled by imaginary "green lines" of relatively recent vintage.

So, I decided to let my son read the news reports on the incident. I believe that he already understands the situation much better than our current government ministers.

(But how do I explain to him that Jewish leaders are calmly planning - with Arab and American chieftains - the uprooting not of trees, but of thousands of our people from over that imaginary line?)

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