From The Rectory

As I sit down to write this month’s article, the shocking news of yet another beheading at the hands of Islamic Extremists dominates the news headlines!

There can be no excuses for such barbaric acts and there are no easy explanations as to how the modern world could have deteriorated so astonishingly for such atrocities to be happening.

There is also no easy answer as to why God would sit back, and apparently allow such evil to triumph.

But even out of such tragic circumstances, God’s love can shine.  Let me share with you a story that starts in 1986.  On the 9th March 1986 Rabbi Blumenfeld was shot in the head by a Palestinian terrorist, as he walked home from a Sabbath service near the Western wall.  The Rabbi was in fact from New York, and was just visiting Jerusalem.  Fortunately he survived the incident and the gunman, a man named Omar Khatib was eventually captured and sent to Prison.  Omar showed no remorse, claiming that his only regret was that he had failed to kill his chosen military target.

Blumenfeld’s daughter, Laura, vowed to get even with the man who had brought such pain and misery to her family.  Masquerading as a journalist researching a story she started to correspond with Omar.  She asked him questions such as:

Can you describe the moment of the shooting and what you were feeling?

What would you tell the rabbi and his family if you were to meet them today?

Finally Laura revealed her true identity.  She chose her timing carefully; it was in the middle of Omar’s parole hearing, where she had gone to speak in support of the terrorist’s application for an early release.

We can only imagine the stunned silence that greeted her revelation.

With regards to this remarkable story Ian Coffey writes: ‘Laura Blumenfeld achieved a rare victory.  Instead of inflicting more suffering, she forced her enemy to feel her own.’

After this incident Omar renounced violence, and wrote to the rabbi stating ‘Laura is the mirror that made me see your face as a human person’.

In the book of Leviticus we read: ‘“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19v18)

Anger and the desire for revenge, are natural reactions when we feel we have been wronged, or that there has been an act of injustice, but the power of love is so much greater.  When we hunger for revenge it tears us apart inside, but if we can learn to let go, to forgive and trust God, it brings us freedom and release, and as Laura demonstrated, it can lead to transformation. 

Wil North

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