Shir Ha-Ma'alot #2

[From the Psalm Recited before Birkat Ha-Mazon on Weekdays
By the rivers of Babylon (Psalm 137)]


"Remember, Hashem, to the Edomites, the day of Jerusalem"
King David saw through the spirit of prophecy not only the destruction of the First Temple by the rivers of Babylon, but also the destruction of the Second Temple by the Edomites, who are the Romans (Midrash Shochar Tov 522 and Targum Yonatan). The “day of Jerusalem” was a horrible and bitter day, the day of the destruction of Jerusalem. How fortunate are we that we have merited the building of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem. The same expression "Yom Yerushalayim - Jerusalem Day," has been transformed from bitterness to sweetness, from darkness to light.

"Praiseworthy is he who will clutch and dash your infants against the rock"
How is it possible to do something so cruel!? Relax, the Children of Israel are the merciful ones, the children of merciful ones, and they never have and never will perpetrate such an act. But non-Jews have surely acted in this way. When the prophet Elisha came to Damascus to anoint Chazel to be king of Aram, he burst into weeping (Melachim 2 8:11). "And Chazel said: Why does my master weep? And he answered: Because I know the evil that you will do to the Children of Israel...and you will dash their infants" (verse 12). And this is indeed what the Babylonians did to infants during the destruction of the First Temple (Rabbi Avraham ibn Ezra), as is mentioned in the kinot (lamentations recited on Tisha Be-Av). It is therefore possible to understand our sentiments. The Psalm does not say, however, that we would ever actually do this. In any event, it is better to transform feelings of distress to feelings of anger, and feelings of mourning into feelings of revenge. The Russian writer and thinker Tolstoy was an extreme pacifist. He thought that it was enough to merely have goodwill in order to bring peace into the world and not to use violence even in response to violence. A man asked him: And if you saw someone crushing a baby’s skull? He responded: This would never happen! He did not see the Nazis. With G-d's help, we now have an army, and one who tries to injure one Jewish baby, a million soldiers will rise up against him.