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‘Israel is in a crisis – let’s not waste it’

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“October 7 marked the point of no return,” Rabbi Danny Mirvis, the acting chief executive of World Mizrachi, told a presentation organised by Mizrachi South Africa on 8 February. “We cannot go back to life as it was on October 6.”

“This war is different to any other war,” he told an audience at Sydenham Shul in Johannesburg. “Instead of turning names into numbers, we’re turning numbers into names with the civilian and military casualties. The level of evil that has been expressed is something we’ve not experienced before.”

Mirvis, also the rabbi of Ohel Moshe Synagogue in Herzliya Pituach, Israel, said, “We had the wrong approach to security on 6 October. Our military strategy was wrong. We all thought that a war was going to be in Lebanon. Even Daniel Perez [who is being held hostage in Gaza] wrote to his friends on 6 October that the border with Gaza was boring.”

This, according to Mirvis, proves the point made by Rambam, that if there’s no diversity of thought and views and everyone has the identical approach to something, something is amiss and needs to change.

“In the right time, Israel needs a different make-up of political leadership,” Mirvis said.

He explained that in the biblical story of Joseph, there’s an interpretation that says that had Reuven, the oldest son of Jacob, known that the story of Joseph would be recorded and retold to future generations, he would have taken his brother, Joseph, home to his father instead of selling him to be a slave in Egypt. “Had our biblical characters known they were biblical characters, they would have acted differently.

“The Tanach will be updated, and current events will be recorded,” Mirvis said. “What we’re going through now is going to be a chapter in this updated version. We’re living through historical times, and this is a continuation of our biblical story.

“We need to recognise that if we lose the war and our Jewish identity, the story ends here. We’re fighting for our lives and our future.”

He said there were two types of people in this world – those who understand history and know we need to change, and those who don’t.

“Through people moving to the mercaz [centre of Israel], the people of Israel have been forced to unite. Through chesed and tragedy, we’ve witnessed a unity that previously wasn’t thought possible,” Mirvis said, discussing the change in attitude of Israelis.

Mirvis was told that his new neighbours, who moved to Herzliya from the south of Israel because of the war, were afraid to do so because they believed “the protesters hate us”. “They were made to think that those protesting the government were enemies,” he said.

“However, we were never really enemies, we forgot who the real enemies were.

“I’m scared that we’ll go back to where we were, and the closer we get to elections, the bigger the cracks are going to be. We must reject any politician who enabled these differences in our community before 6 October.

“It’s okay to question the suffering of innocent people,” he said. “It would be pitiful if we were the same as before 7 October.

“As Rabbi Perez says, we must never let a good crisis go to waste. Every Jew is connected to what is going on in Israel. The crisis is true and real, but if Perez can say it, so can we.”

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1 Comment

  1. Georgina

    Feb 27, 2024 at 8:37 pm

    If one of my family members was a victim of October 7th my fear and fury would see no end. I understand how Isreal is reacting. I m not religious, born Christian but I will still pray for you in case there is something or someone out there to hear me

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