Monday, two bomb blasts halted the Boston Marathon. Three people were killed and more than one hundred fifty were wounded. With over five hundred thousand spectators and over thirty-eight thousand runners, lives are shattered. The world’s largest marathon is forever changed. Boston, the safe haven that is home to my ancestors who fled Russian pogroms and Nazi gas chambers, is now rattled with anxiety and fear.
And who’s responsible for the bombing? COWARDS! Only cowards plant bombs at the finish line of race where exhausted runners and supportive bystanders – defenseless people – congregate. COWARDS! Only cowards plant bombs and refuse to claim responsibility for their actions. (Even misguided terrorists fess up!)
The sad irony isn’t lost on many that Monday also was Patriots’ Day and Yom HaZikaron – Israel’s Day of Remembrance for all who died in war or due to acts of terror; days that commemorate heroes and innocent victims who died in defense or in support of their country. And now, they will be days to remember COWARDS?
Who are these cowards? Eventually they’ll be caught and we’ll all know who they are. Why did they attack innocents? Maybe to defy societal norms. Maybe out of jealousy of runners. Maybe for psychopathic sport. Maybe we’ll learn their reasons one day and will better understand.
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The Hebrew Bible tells about the Israelite nation’s escape from Egypt and journey in the Sinai desert. Tired and thirsty, the people trudged on; the men in front and the women, children, elderly, and infirmed trailing behind. Suddenly, seemingly from nowhere, Amalek attacked them. Moses, in response, quickly recruited Joshua and a militia was formed. A battle ensued and ultimately the Children of Israel prevailed. At the conclusion of the chapter, we read “And the Lord said unto Moses: ‘Write this for a memorial in the book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.’” (Exodus 17:14)
In trying to process this story, many questions come to mind and commentators stand ready with possible answers. Who was Amalek? Amalek is believed to have been a person or a tribe who descended from Esau. Why did he (or they) attack the Israelites? Maybe to defy or challenge God’s power. Maybe out of jealousy of or revenge against the descendants of Jacob. Maybe for psychopathic sport. Given all of the battles described in the Bible, why did God single out and command that the memory of Amalek be blotted out? It is this last question that intrigues me the most.
Why would anyone, let alone God, want to completely erase someone from the memory banks? It’s clear to me that one would have to commit some heinous crime – some unconscionable act – to justify being vaporized. I, therefore, must conclude that Amalek – like the Boston Marathon Bombers – had to be punished severely for being a COWARD! He snuck up on the defenseless, tired, thirsty, and weak and attacked them with no word, no warning, and no reason given. He took “the easy way out” instead of confronting his enemies face-to-face. He was morally corrupt. He was a COWARD.
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I pray that Boston and all who have been affected by these bombings will slowly but surely find ways to cope and heal. And, once the culpable COWARDS are caught and brought to justice, I hope we all can blot them out of our memories.