What About the “Collateral Damage?”

Quick Comment: Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

In this week’s Torah portion God’s war against Egypt reaches its dreadful climax with the death of every firstborn Egyptian son. (Exodus 12:29).

The story compels us to ask: What about “collateral damage, the innocent who suffer?

Each year more Jews celebrate our liberation from Egypt than participate in any other religious event during the year. One of the most important moments in the Passover ritual is when we dip our finger ten times into our wine cups and stain our plates with the ten drops.

Wine in Judaism represents joy (NEVER blood).

By taking these drops out of our cup we consciously diminish our joy to acknowledge and lament the horrible suffering of the Egyptians.

When Israel repelled the terrorist uprisings in Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, strong voices questioned her actions. It was not only the anti-Semites who wish to see Israel wiped off the map. There were and are thoughtful voices—both in Israel and the world outside—who love and support the Jewish state that decry the huge number of innocent people–particularly children–who suffer and die by her hand.

We cannot turn a deaf ear to the cries of our enemy!

For a civilized people self-defense and the pursuit of peace must always be inseparable. May this truth impel us to relentlessly work for the day when, “Violence shall no more be heard in your land (Isaiah 60:18)!”

When we celebrate our liberation from Egypt in ancient days and our survival as a people in a tiny land of our own today, may we never forget:

The tears of our enemies stain our souls, and God holds us accountable for them.

May the tears of all God’s children soon become the solvent that dissolves hatred and war wherever it exists!