23 November. Dateline: Tel Aviv

The Solidarity Mission to Southern Israel landed at Ben Gurion to a welcome sight: Rain! Geshem! And not just a drizzle, but a steady, soaking rain, the very kind that Israel needs and the answer to our prayers ever since we've been inserting "mashiv ha'ruach ve'morid ha'geshem" in our prayer.
 
From the airport, we went to our beautiful hotel close to the beach in Tel Aviv, leading Rabbi Robinson to remark wistfully that this was the first time in his life that he did not get off the plane and make a bee-line for the Kotel. His guilt was somewhat assuaged by the eclectic feast that followed at the Regina Restaurant by the Old Railroad Station. Not many meals feature eggplant salad with pomenagrades, Hungarian goulash, Moroccan bread (lots of zataar), grilled chicken, kebobs, and topped off with halvah, cake and sweet dates.
 
Following the repast, we were treated to a thought-provoking discussion by Rabbi Bill Berk of the Hartmann Institute in Jerusalem titled: Wrestling with the Ethical use of Weapons: From Tanach to the IDF in Gaza. Rabbi Berk cited many sources from the Chumash, Nevi'im, Talmud, the Ramban and a former head of the Mossad that boil down to this one message: Having military power is a good thing, but it has to have limits.
 
All IDF soldiers are required to carry with them at all times a Code of War Ethics, known as Tohar Ha'Neshek (literally, pure arms). One recent example. There is a bakery right next to the shul where the four rabbis were butchered so barbarically just a few days ago. The bakery is staffed primarily by an Arab staff. Right after the massacre, the Arab bakery workers were terrified to see a large number of Israeli policemen storming the bakery. It turned out that the policemen were there to protect them from a possible retaliatory attack by Jews, an attack that never materialized.

Tue, January 16 2018 29 Tevet 5778