As I write this article on a sweltering and ominous Tisha B’Av my fingers tremble a bit with every keystroke. My beard itches, my throat is parched, and my stomach rumbles. I am uncomfortable and lightheaded as well as spiritually weighed down by the mood of Israel on this day. However, despite all my self-indulgent complaints, the only thing I can think of is how I can only assume a day like this would be considered vacation for Gilad Shalit.

Keeping with the popular customs of today I read a Holocaust book last night before bed and watched a Holocaust movie this afternoon. The themes of both the book and the movie were the same. The book, written by renowned Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel, was entitled “The Trial of G-d” and the movie was titled “G-d on Trial”. In both pieces, suffering Jews, in a desperate attempt to make sense of their pain and loss, put G-d on trial for the atrocities that have befallen them. In a particularly heated exchange during the book’s trial the bitter Jewish prosecutor charges “You want to leave Him out? Turn Him into a neutral bystander? Would a father stand by quietly, silently, and watch his children being slaughtered?” To which the defender of G-d replies “You are using images, let me add mine. When human beings kill one another, where is G-d to be found? You see Him among the killers. I find Him among the victims.” It is these two contradictory statements that rang most true to me.

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I find it impossible to remove G-d from the events of our lives or view Him as a “neutral bystander”. Possibly and internally, I believe the message of the 9th of Av, a difficult yet profound message, is that despite all the destruction that has befallen us, we must fight to count G-d among the victims. What this means, is that each and every one of us has a responsibility to fight back against the injustices of the wicked, for we are not only fighting for ourselves, but for our G-d among us as well.

My thoughts return to Gild Shalit. I have mentioned him in many articles, and yet I feel it has been inadequate. A writer with a conscience has a responsibility to speak that conscience and to ensure complacency does not set in where it is most dangerous. I find myself constantly resisting the urge to simply post “remember Gilad is still alive”. While many ask how G-d could allow Gilad to sit in captivity for five long years, subjects to horrors unimaginable to us in our comfortable lives, after today, this 9th of Av, I view the situation in a new light.

Whenever I picture Gilad Shalit in captivity, I now picture G-d captive beside him, for He too is a victim. His son is being tortured at the hands of the wicked and it is our indifference that adds to His shame. We must all strive to do the most that we can to bring Gilad home, for in his return, we are returning the dignity of G-d and the Jewish people as well.  In both the book and the movie G-d is found guilty, yet the accusers die with the exaltation of his name on their tongues. This conclusion implies that even if we are to find G-d guilty, this does not unburden us from our job here on earth. That can only be understood if we see G-d among the victims, and do all we can to liberate him. In this instance it is G-d as the abused, and Man is on trial. If we can achieve that, than we have all taken a step towards the ultimate goal we each individually chant with fervor at the end of the Book of Lamentations, “Take us back O Lord to Yourself, and let us come back; renew our days as of old.”



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