I'm Losing Patience

["Be-Ahavah U-Be-Emunah" – Bo 5770 – translated by R. Blumberg]

Without being such a saint, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. I’m no genius, but I’m not so dumb either. I hold fast to my opinions, and I’m pretty obsessive about that. But I don’t write off all those people who disagree with me. I don’t get angry at them. Rather, I relate to them patiently, so that pretty much makes up for my being opinionated. When I see a Jew violate the Shabbat, I don’t throw stones at him, but I feel sad, and I say to myself: “That person doesn’t know any better.” When I see a Jew eat non-kosher food, it pains me, but I say to myself: “Poor fellow! He wasn’t taught.” When I meet people who want to give up part of our country to our enemies, I shudder, but I end up saying: “They’re just confused.” When I hear about a juvenile delinquent caught up in petty crimes and foolishness, it hurts me deeply, and I am filled with compassion for him. Faced with all sorts of improper, inappropriate, immodest, immoral acts, I react with patience. I say to myself: “I believe in G-d. He won’t abandon His people. Everything will work out.”
But there are extremists, the likes of which make me lose patience when I see them. When I hear someone shout, “Death to the Arabs!” I shudder. I remember the Storm Troopers’ song, “When Jewish blood squirts from the knife, then will we have it so.” The fellow who yells, “Death to the Arabs” always sugarcoats those words in a layer of fine verbiage taken from our treasury of holiness and nationalism. I remember that all that aggressiveness that hurts people and makes one forget what man is, starts with talk. When I hear an extremist call his Jewish brother, a traitor, an anti-Semite, a Nazi, etc., my patience runs out.
From my youth I recall Ionesco’s stage play “Rhinoceros”, which describes how moderate, friendly, intellectual, logical people can, without noticing it, turn into wild monsters who try to persuade their fellow man, by all sorts of arguments, that they are right. Those same brutes, closed up in their frozen world with their distorted approach, who never ever listen to anyone else, are unaware that they have turned into primitive crazies, busy trampling people.
Yes, be careful, man. I don’t know if you come from the wild, but for sure you’ve still got a bestial spirit, and you are liable to become a wild animal. Don’t fall asleep on the watch.
Certainly, during wartime we’ve got to protect ourselves, but let us not forget that our enemies are still people. Let us recall that when Yaakov was preparing for war with his brother, he “feared lest he be killed, but was troubled lest he be compelled to kill others” (Rashi on Bereshit 32:8). Let us recall Avraham, who returned from battle and was afraid because of the people he had killed (Rashi on Bereshit 15:1). Yes, in war we kill, because “if someone is coming to kill you, you should kill him first.” We have no choice. But one should not nurture a culture of murder, even by allusion. One should not speak lightly about death to the Arabs. One should not arouse the nations’ hatred.
Our Rabbi, Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook, wrote that every Jew who is aware, even a child, knows that despite the terrible things that the nations did to us, we never nurtured our hatred for them (Le-Netivot Yisrael 1:17). Also, one must not talk of hatred for the nations in the name of the Torah, and certainly we mustn’t talk of hatred for our fellow Jew. The Torah was compared to water, and Israel in its elevated moments was compared to the stars, and in its lowly moments was compared to sand. Sand and water mixed together make for a swampy morass. I am therefore losing patience, because when that type of extremist gets going, it really hurts. They don’t let their fellow man live in peace, but turn the world into a powder keg.
Consider yourselves warned.