| Second Thoughts |

Once Again

Never Again these days has a very hollow ring to it. Never Again has become Once Again


IN his fiery speech to the Security Council, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, presented a powerful indictment of the apathy and indifference of the Council concerning the Hamas butchery of October 7. He closed by declaring that until the Council labels Hamas a terrorist organization — which they have refused to do — he and his delegation will henceforth be wearing the yellow Magen David of the Holocaust. The purpose of this, he said, was to remind the Council of the world’s silence that resulted in the Holocaust, of which the Hamas pogrom was a reprise.

This was a dramatic gesture, but in all candor, I found myself somewhat uneasy about it. Granted, wearing the yellow star expresses deep feelings of identity with the victims of the October 7 massacre, and perhaps it will in some way affect the thinking of some people in the wider world who are not anti-Semites. (Prayerfully, there still are such righteous non-Jews.)

But beyond the practical outcomes of this gesture, my feeling is that the yellow star encapsulates so much suffering, martyrdom and, yes, Jewish pride, that it has attained a certain measure of sanctity. Like all sacred objects, perhaps its utilization, even for excellent reasons, should be off limits, even though Erdan’s motives are genuine and heartfelt.

What made me even more uneasy were the words inside Erdan’s yellow Magen David: the familiar “Never Again.” On one level, this is a moving slogan, a demonstration of Jewish defiance, but on another level, it is troubling. Never again what? Never again will we permit the wholesale slaughter of Jews as in the Holocaust? Never again will it happen? The Again just happened again on October 7, with over 1,000 Jews slaughtered in one day in a contemporary Holocaust unequaled in its unspeakable savagery. The Again is happening right now with the recrudescence of ugly anti-Semitism around the world because Israel has the chutzpah to fight back. Never Again these days has a very hollow ring to it. Never Again has become Once Again.

The daily reports of casualties from the front are heartrending. But one casualty we do welcome, and that is the widespread illusion that we alone are in charge of our destiny. Now that we have seen that even with a battle-tested army, a dominating air force, vaunted intelligence, Jewish brains and bravery — despite all this, the enemy seriously wounded us — is it possible that we will now see a national shift in focus, a shift from reliance on our own power to a reliance on a Higher Power?

We will, with G-d’s help, recover and will destroy our brutal enemy, but that will only be the first step. After the victory, all elements of Am Yisrael — from chareidi to secular — will hopefully give serious consideration to reconnecting with the One in Tehillim 121 Who is our Divine Watchman and Who “lo yanum v’lo yishan — neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

We salute our heroic warriors; they need all the physical and spiritual sustenance we can give them, and we must intensify our prayers for them. But in the final analysis, our destiny is not in our hands alone. King David said it 3,000 years ago in his Tehillim 127, and his words ring loud and clear even today: “If G-d does not guard the city, in vain is the watchman vigilant.”

We pray, we hope, we fight, we help — as we must — but only one Power in the universe can guarantee Never Again.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 986)

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