Not This Time

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Most every week, I sit down to my computer on Friday morning and share with you a bit of my world… what’s important to me… what occupies my mind… something I’ve learned or experienced. I find a few pictures to illustrate my post. If I can, I try to keep it light hearted and amusing, and hope that it’ll be a comfortable experience for my readers. I might ask some questions. I might raise some issue. But I’ll try to provide answers too. And wrap it all up with conclusions. Not this time, though. I’m suffering, and my heart is aching. I don’t have any answers. I have no conclusions. What I’m telling you is with a heavy heart. And there’s nothing about it, that I find amusing.

A week ago yesterday, three teenage boys were on their way home from school. They are Ayal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel, and Gillad Shear. They were seminary students on their way to enjoy the Sabbath with parents and family when they were kidnapped by a terrorist organization. Minutes after they were captured, one of the young men sent a message to the police, saying that he had been kidnapped. Since then, we haven’t heard from them. The parents of the three boys have shown great courage and restraint under pressure.

But this story isn’t just the story of the boys and their families. As a society, we have faced extortion before. Using just such methods in the past, our enemies succeeded in getting the release of convicted murderers. In the last year alone, they managed to get 75 convicted terrorists released as payment for their willingness to talk peace with us. Once they got these murderers released, they lost interest in peace. Many of the released terrorists have gone back to their previous inclinations, and have continued their criminal behavior.

Most of my countrymen, including myself, are horrified by this latest kidnapping. I feel as if I were holding my breath, waiting for the return of the boys, hoping that the army or the police will find them soon and return them to normal life among us. It is hard for me to think of anything else. These boys could be my own grandchildren. I love them and worry about them as if they were. And a lot of people around me feel the same.

Ayal, Gilad, and Naftali
Ayal, Gilad and Naftali

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78 responses to “Not This Time

  1. It is sometimes difficult, in times like these, to believe in the God, whom you and I both worship, and the ‘fairness’ of things…..but we have to keep on believing….

    • I understand what you’re saying Harry, but I have a slightly different viewpoint towards such things. Maybe because of what I had to live through in my early years, I never had much faith in the ‘fairness’ of things. And whatever happens, I believe that I sense the presence of god. If a volcano were to erupt, and wipe out my city, I wouldn’t doubt that there was a planet earth. It would just reaffirm how little I know of its ways. Similarly, I don’t dare to guess the ways of god, but I see his presence everywhere. Thank you so much for your comment.

  2. I am so sorry for your pain, and the pain of those bereft parents. It is shocking and heartbreaking when young people are used as weapons of war, like the schoolgirls in Nigeria. May the Lord have mercy.

    • Yes, the schoolgirls in Nigeria is a very similar story… only worse. It is good of you to mention that, because it gives us a better perspective. When we hear such a story from far away… from another country or another continent, it dulls the pain somewhat. Even though it shouldn’t really. But that is human nature, I suppose. When a disaster happens to someone we know or are close to, it’s more personal… more painful. Thank you Gill.

  3. Very sad, I too hope for the boy’s return Shimon! Why folks can’t all just live together.. well of course they can, but for the men who seek power, it all comes down to power and it’s allure amongst certain individuals and organisations..

    • I’ve been thinking along those lines since I heard the bad news, Chillbrook… wondering why it’s so difficult for us to live together in peace. And it’s not just between countries, or between factions of the citizenry. We know these problems start between brothers and sisters in the family. And I’ve been asking myself these days, is it possible to find peace? What could we do to reach it? I’m still thinking.

  4. I cannot imagine how the family and friends must feel, and you and the community….as you say, it weighs horribly on the heart.
    But I am an optimist and shall send positive thoughts and prayers for a wonderful outcome and will wait with hope until I hear that these lovely boys are home, unharmed, and sooner rather than later!!!xxx

    • Thank you so much for your hopes and prayers, Dina. When something like that happens, I become pessimistic and sad. I can’t help myself. I’ve started listening to the news on the radio a number of times each day, and that brings even more unhappiness. But seeing some of the more positive reactions of some of my friends brings me strength. The attitude of the mothers of these boys have given me strength and hope. Thank you. xxx

      • Well, the world is all messed up, as always by trigger happy,revengeful, freaky people, and like you I get the insanity of man. Generation after generation, hatred is taught and kids and adults get brainwashed, and that spills over…But, people can and do think for themselves even in these circumstances, and so the cycle of indoctrination can be broken. Watching the news from your home does make me want to despair….BUT, I am, no matter what, optimistic….I have to be….we HAVE to hold on too something Shimon, there has to be some goodness in this world ……. Love and hugs to you my beautiful friend…always and forever.x

        • Thank you very much for this positive message, my dear Dina. Like yourself, I remain optimistic… even though, at times, I am close to despair. There is goodness in this world, and there are good people, despite the insanity, the injustice, and the propaganda. Sometimes, some people are willing to sell out for a good story… sometimes out of cynicism… but I put my faith in those with love in their hearts, and I would rather die than believe otherwise. Your comment gives me strength. I go peacefully to my Sabbath, with love, x.

  5. I think you touched on something special there, that these boys could be your grandchildren, or that of anyone reading this. Where do we go from here Shimon?

    • I have to admit, Claire, that a story such as this usually leads me to some very negative thoughts. It brings out the worst in me. I find consolation in reading… I listen to music… and I wait and hope. But as time goes by, and we don’t hear anything, I feel as if a heavy shadow has fallen over me. Where do we go from here? A very good question. Ultimately, I suppose, we have to go on with our lives. But there’s a scar that’s left on our hearts.

  6. How awful for the boys and their families. Sadly this kind of situation is replicated daily in all the troubled areas of the world (And how many of those are there!) and so often, they happen in the name of religion, although of course, the reality is that they are all about people pursuing their own ends in the name of religion or as a result of dreadful misconceptions about religion.

    • There are many excuses for hatred and violence. And I have heard some really terrible things that have been claimed in the name of religion, of democracy… and even in the name of the ‘brotherhood of man’. But in my experiences, I have found the greatest inspiration in the company of those who believed in those very things. Ultimately, I think that most people realize that what counts is human behavior, and not the flag they fly. And I do believe that I have met a lot more good people in this world than evil. And that still gives me hope. Thanks for your comment, Jenny.

  7. So sad, and such pointless suffering inflicted on the innocent. My thoughts are with you and yours.

  8. I’m so very sorry, Shimon……

  9. You’ve expressed my own thoughts. I fear for them, even as I entrust them to G_d. I’ve been praying for them and their families.

  10. Will people ever become civilized? I hope they are safe and will return to their families

    • I often wonder about ‘civilization’, Barbara. In reading history, we can find some really terrible things that happened among so-called civilized people and civilized nations. I’m a little discouraged these days… and it brings all kinds of thoughts to mind… there is that negative thread… of cruelty and evil that runs through history. I hope we’ll find some answers, one of these days… I do keep hoping. But I don’t know.

  11. Holding all in light and love, Shimon. Praying for gentle peace and the Spirit to bless and ease the world’s tensions, fear, and anger…the “dis”-ease that threatens our deep connections with each other and the Sacred. May these boys be safe and well; may their families be loved profoundly through this pain and suffering.

  12. Your pain is also my pain and the pain of others in these kinds of horrific incidents – I have you and the boys in my prayers.

    • Thank you for your prayers, Jo. It is very difficult to witness such a thing, and I find strength in those who reach out for the good, even in such terrible times.

  13. I never watch or listen to the news, so I don’t know a thing about this, nor do I pray anymore … but I do feel your sorrow nonetheless … Love, cat.

    • I am sorry to have brought you sorrow, cat. When I was young, I used to read the paper each day, and listen to news programs on the radio… and over the years, I learned to keep a bit of distance from all of that. It was so depressing. Now because of this disaster, I have been listening to the radio a number of times each day. And it’s been very discouraging. I think eventually, I’ll have to wrestle myself away from the news. So I understand what you’re saying. Appreciate your comment.

  14. It’s heartbreaking Shimon. I just attended a #bringbackourboys rally yesterday here in Toronto. While the overwhelming support of the community is inspiring we still feel helpless and just want these boys to be safe. My two sons are the same age and I can’t image what the parents are going through.

    • Yes, it really is heartbreaking. But as it happens, the mothers of these boys are a source of strength. I was really impressed by them. It is good to know that there is support in far away Toronto too. Thank you for sharing that with me, Edith. I feel helpless too.

  15. Dear Shimon, my heart is breaking for these brave young boys. Please know that I am praying for them every day. Also I have friends praying for them too. We are united together praying for their safe return the same as we were praying for Gilad Shalit and his family too. I love you so much Shimon and even though you are so many miles from me, you are very close to my heart. Hugs from me, Vicky

    • Thank you so much for your solidarity and your prayers too, dear Vicky. I know that you are truly with us. The dedication of true friends gives us courage, even in terrible times.

  16. My chest is tight…I can’t breath at this news. I feel in knowing you a bit better over this past year…I know, in part, your experience day to day. You are not a distant stranger. You are a friend. As a result of that connection, these three boys have a more intimate connection to me through you and I feel your pain and imagine the frustration of loss and longing your community must feel. You are in my heart…I lift up my prayers for their safe return. Kathleen

    • Thank you so much for your prayers, and your identification with us Kathleen. When terrible things like this happen, it is so easy to get discouraged and give up hope. It’s encouraging to know that there are good people in other parts of the world, in other cultures, who reject such evil and work for the good.

  17. I’m sick to my stomach about this, and I’ve been following it daily. This is the first piece of news I look for when I wake up and as the days go by I know that the chances of finding them are slim to none. Time is not on our side in this matter. I know that the whole country suffers because these young boys are everyone’s sons.
    I’m so tired of the hopelessness in the Middle East in general and in Israel in particular. There were years when I believed that I would see peace in my lifetime. Not anymore.
    By the way, when I saw the title of your blog today, I knew without reading it what you’re going to say.
    I envy you your belief in God.

    • I wish I could say that my faith gives me consolation, Rachel. I think that some of the things I’ve had to endure in this life have made me tougher. But there are sometimes those unexpected reminders that expose a nerve… and the pain is as terrible as if I’d been born yesterday. And I’m sure that you, situated as you are, on the other side of the world, know exactly what I’m talking about. I can just groan and wait. Thank you for your comment, I am always encouraged by your smiling face on your icon.

  18. I’ve heard this story in the news even here in Germany. I wish with all my heart that they will find these 3 boys in good health.

    • Thank you for your good wishes, Taphian. It is good to know that there are those in other countries and other cultures who care and hope for a positive resolution to this story.

  19. Such horror! I have no words to describe my feelings. Pain. Anger. Revenge. This type of people have no justification to exist.

    • I have to admit, Bob, that I had a strong desire for revenge, after getting the news of this atrocity… but this just led me to frustration. Even if I could, would I want to do something similar to the children of these perpetrators? No. And what could I do to the men who did this that would give them a taste of what they’ve done to us? They are so sick… their vision of the world is so twisted, that I could never ‘pay them back’. I would like to remove them from this world though. Still thinking…

  20. I hope, I pray, for a safe and speedy return of the children.

  21. It is heartbreaking that these young students have been stolen away and are being held by terrorists, and we pray for their safe return.

    When you mentioned it to me the other day, it brought to mind the Amish school massacre in October of 2006, although the Amish tragedy was not a terrorist attack. It did, however, target children who were going about the business of being children; who were innocently sitting in an Amish school classroom, who ended up being used as a weapon for one person’s angry and suicidal delusions. Innocent children, learning about their faith.

    These seminary boys are students, and their families are surely suffering as the world awaits their safe return. The entire idea of children being targeted, children who could be our own grandchildren, is so terrifying and unjust and weighs heavily on my heart. My own grandchildren are precious to me, and that we have found ourselves at a place in this world where children are being used by terrorists (or armed gunmen) as pawns in their horrifically twisted plays for power, is simply unacceptable, in every way. It does make a person wonder why our world hasn’t collapsed already, given these atrocious crimes against children.

    The Amish massacre (where ten Amish girls were shot and 5 of the girls died), the Oklahoma city bombing (where 168 people died, with 19 of them being children), their deaths all connected to religion, in one way or another. Countless other incidents, such as children being bought and sold in sex trafficking, or being forced to participate in child labor, or children living in extreme poverty. The Nigerian school girls who were abducted. And now, these young seminary students.

    Our hearts are heavy, and we ask ourselves when it will stop. When will it stop? Please, make it stop. Please, protect our children. Every one of them.

    • It also angers me, and causes my heart to ache in a different way, that it was slow for this news to gain international attention. That our world has become so accustomed to such horror that it barely requires a mention in the nightly news. The world as we know it can’t continue to exist in this way.

      Our hearts and prayers are with you, and with those young men.

      • Thank you very much for your support, N. Thank you for your prayers. I do have faith in those who care. I do believe that we will outlast this evil.

    • Your comment gave me a lot of thought, N. I couldn’t remember if I’d even heard of the tragedy of the Amish school massacre in October of 2006. And that made me think of how removed we are when something happens in a different country, far away. And then I looked up the story. And I couldn’t help but compare. It was very moving to read of the grace of those Amish people and their willingness to forgive. I know I haven’t reached their level, and that in itself gave me a lot to think about. But I also thought about the perpetrator. In the case of the Amish massacre, it was a one person who seemingly was a madman. And it is easier for me to deal with something like that. I know that people do things that are truly inexplicable when they’re crazy. But here we have to deal with a very strange and twisted culture which is hard to imagine if you haven’t seen it face to face. There are supposed religious leaders who promise young men 70 virgins to have sex with in heaven if they perform a suicide terror attack. And there are summer camps for little children, in which the children dress up as terrorists, and are fed countless invented libels about the Jewish people. Usually, when someone encounters these bizarre stories, he or she just laughs… because it is so outlandish. But this is a culture we have to deal with. And to make matters still worse, the international politics are very complicated, and often work against us. But ultimately, I believe that good will triumph, and that evil will be vanquished as it has been many times in history.

  22. My heart bleeds in tandem with yours … and with all good people who understand that we are all creations of that same Divine Hand … whatever name we choose for God. That anyone can claim God’s approval for ANY harm to another being … is evil. And I use that word sparingly. But here it applies.

    Every day I turn on the TV News to hear yet another horror has been perpetrated by some faction … nearly always in the name of their particular “religion”. I used to leave the TV on in the background as I got ready for the day. Now I don’t. I switch it off and look out my window at the mountains embracing Honolulu. I concentrate on that beauty and the miracle of this little world and our lives …. but still … my heart breaks at what some of us are doing to others. It still breaks when I shut my eyes and stop up my ears. It still breaks.

    • Thank you very much, Nikki. I understand what you’re saying, and feel much the same way. It is very difficult to speak of evil… or even to get to know it. I too prefer to spend the limited time I have in this world, seeking out the good and the inspiring, and appreciate the wonders of this world. Over the years, I have chosen to spend less time focused on news and political conflicts… and to focus instead on what is inspiring. And it is because of that, that I don’t care to discuss the middle east conflicts. But this incident pierced through my defenses… as others have in the past. And though I really had no desire to sadden my friends… I just couldn’t right about anything else. It was what was sitting on my heart.

  23. Shimon, it seems that life has gone to such extremes, that it feels difficult to lift our heads and continue to look forward, but we must hold onto hope and trust…in God Almighty…

    • Thank you, Mother Hen. I falter and I stumble after hearing such news. But I agree with you. We have to choose the path of good and righteousness, and have hope in our hearts.

      • Hello Shimon, each time I hear of atrocities, it makes me cringe. That’s why I start each day with gratitude and examine my heart. Then I listen to the sounds of the morning as it wakes up. I guess that is why I appreciate simplicity. The beauty of nature, the antics of our cats. I would say people are the most difficult. Lol! Have a beautiful week, my faraway friend!

        • Thank you for your words of consolation. I believe you are write in what you say. There is much to celebrate and appreciate in this world… and it does seem the worst horrors come from people. I’m trying to recover since the boys were found murdered… but I feel as if I was struck dumb.

  24. It is the thought of the boys, the shattering of their innocence and what they will bear if they survive. It is the thought of their parents not knowing, just wanting them returned alive… but also knowing nothing will never be the same what ever the outcome. This is terror for everyone. That blink of the eye when everything is altered, reminding us what it is to be human despite all our efforts. I’m sorry to hear of this Shimon and lend my heart to the healing of this wound.

    • You describe it just as I see it, JH. A blink of an eye, and the world turns upside down. The aching for lost innocence… the ache of not knowing… of time going by without any answer… imaginings can be more horrific than any other news… Thank you for caring. I still hope for the day when I’ll be able to share some good news in connection with this story.

  25. Sometimes there are no answers, and that is very hard. My heart goes out to your community, and especially to the parents of these children, and I will pray for them.

    • Thank you for your prayer, Angeline. You’re right. It is hardest when we don’t know… when we have no answers… when we wait and don’t know for how long. But there still is hope. We are hoping.

  26. My prayers and thoughts are with these boys and their parents…

  27. I am so very sorry Shimon. It is hardest to bear when the victims are young people. I wonder if the world will ever be rid of hate. Adding my prayers to those of your well wishers for a safe and speedy return of these innocent boys.

    • Shimon, I just read about the discovery of these young boy’s bodies yesterday evening, and I am saddened beyond words. What a cruel world this is! My heart goes out to their families and all your people.

      • Thank you very much for your comments, Madhu. And thank you for your prayers. Though I have seen a lot in my life, this story just broke my heart. I feel I have nothing to say. I have questions, and very few answers… and prefer to be silent.

  28. Dear Shimon,
    I am so sorry to hear of this. Please know that I am wishing a safe return for those poor boys and relief for their parents’ broken hearts.

  29. This is such a shocking story. How can anyone be so cruel as to harm these innocent children? My heart goes out to their heartbroken families, and I wish them peace.

    • Yes, the story shook me, though I’ve seen my share of evil in this life. The boys were murdered. The families of the boys were the strongest among us.

  30. why come ye not down sunny lane
    to see the golden wattle grow,
    or feel the gentle touch of rain
    and hear the soothing cattle’s low?

    why come ye not to walk the leas
    and fields of grapes that purple glow,
    or pass beneath the cypress trees
    that border rivers meekly flow?

    why come ye not when day is done
    and all the work is put away,
    with fields all plowed and fabric spun
    and birds, so many, homeward stray?

    why come ye not to hold my hand
    and sit with me by fireside,
    to share the warmth of fellow man
    and help to welcome evening’s tide?

    why come ye not to sing again
    the songs we learned when oh so young,
    when joys of heart and home did reign
    and no cheerless bells need be rung?

  31. Shimon,
    My heart aches when I see the destruction of young people who lives have barely begun. We live in a world where evil and darkness are taking over. Satan is clearly in control of this mad mans religion that only wants destruction of anyone who does not share their faith. They pray to a false God. Sadly it will more to destruction and lost, but in the end the meek shall inherit the earth. John Doddato

    • Thank you, John. There’s a lot of evil in this world. But I remain optimistic… and as you concluded, there is room for faith. I believe that there are more good people out there, than evil… and those that worship the devil, even if they call him god… will realize one day what a wasteland they sowed.

  32. I don’t think there are really any words to speak that would do justice…
    for I no longer watch the news for it is so senseless what happens…*sigh*
    I had meant to come earlier to say I was thinking of you and the boys and their families..many prayers…I am sorry they were not answered in the way everyone wished for…
    so many demons among the living now….I wonder when mankind will say “enough” ….
    Take Care. Shimon, my thoughts are with you as
    You Matter ..as you are a strong voice of reason and right…
    )0(
    maryrose

    • Appreciate your feelings and your care. These have been hard times here. I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts to explain the chapters that followed this one. I hope to publish an explanation tomorrow, Thank you very much, Maryrose.

  33. I have just started reading the news again after my months holiday – nothing changes does it.
    Shimon I cannot use words that express my thoughts about these things (anger & despair) best I keep my own counsel.
    Just keep the light …………

    David.

    • Ah, how good it is to be isolated at times, David. I’ve really had my fill. And it turned out that what I wrote here was just the first chapter. I hope to publish the continuation of the story tomorrow. Thanks very much for your comment.

  34. Praying for you and Israel.

  35. All the pain that pervades as a result of these actions, it is poured out upon those who generate it.
    Is the law of cause – effect. But the sense of deep frustration remains.
    I hope you find in your heart the strength to face this crazy war, and I wish you the strength to forgive… We must remember that we’re all equal, brothers to each other, is the hatred of a few that divides us…
    I pray for your people, for all people that are at war… and will dedicate the virtues of my meditations.
    affectionately :-)claudine

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