It Sure Seems Like it's the Devil
You give such insightful, intuitive advice that it is possible that you can help answer a question that is troubling my seven-year old son. My son does not understand the fighting in Israel. The only way he seems able to understand it is to bring the devil into it. He has two dear friends in Israel and worries about them. Can you think of a good way to explain all this to him?
The Cyber Rav Answers:
If your son has problems understanding why the fighting in Israel is so persistent, he is in the company of thousands of political scientists, statesmen, and communal leaders. It is a difficult one to fathom. I think that we sometimes give children (and ourselves) the wrong impression in depicting a world in which all people share a common value system. We envision a world in which all people crave democracy, civil liberties, or even peace. But this is simply not the case, and the sooner we disabuse ourselves of this delusion, the sooner we will be able to understand why some conflicts resist resolution.
Not all people do want democracy, or civil liberties, or peace. Some people see democracy as an affront to God, civil liberties as a concession to lewd behavior and peace as a sign of weakness. At the same time that we must understand that there are conflicting values in the world, we need not accommodate those who would seek to destroy us because of the values we hold dear. Your son needs to know that Israel stands firm in the guarding of values that others find threatening and dangerous. But they are our values and they define who we are as contemporary people and as Jews. Now how do we simplify all that?
How about this-- Tell you son that the fighting in Israel is a sad fact, but also an indication that Israel will not allow its children or their future to be put in harm's way. And as long as there are people in the world who would choose to hurt Israelis rather than strengthen themselves or their own families, Israel will have to continue to be strong and act with strength. And that may also mean fighting, but fighting only for what is right and what is good, and to protect the little boys and girls who are the future of Israel.
After all that, he may still feel that the only adequate way to explain all this is the presence of a devil and maybe he's right! Good luck-
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