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We Can Only Trust in God


April 30, 2024
Sondra Oster Baras

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We just concluded the week of Passover.  It is a holiday that involves a great deal of preparation as we rid our homes of any traces of leavened products, all in devotion to God’s commandment (Exodus 12:14-15). The house is scrubbed cleaner than any other time in the year.  And on the eve of the 15th of Nissan, which fell on April 22nd this year, we sit down to the Seder table, with our extended family, and retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

As we approached Passover, the entire country debated as to how we would be celebrating this year.  Still in the midst of a terrible war, with some 100 hostages still held captive by Hamas in dreadful conditions, we asked ourselves how we would celebrate the holiday of freedom.  There were those who reminded us that even in the hell of Auschwitz, Jews did their best to mark the Passover holiday.

For me, as a religious Jew, it was clear that we were going to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt for two reasons: first of all, because God has commanded us to mark this event each  year. But also because that miraculous time remains our most significant source of hope in the Jewish calendar.  Indeed, even the Passover Seder text reminds us that in each generation our enemies have tried to destroy us and ultimately God saves us.   The text is timeless but it is particularly significant in our current situation. Even when things seem so bleak, when we have so many reasons to grieve rather than celebrate, the Passover holiday reminds us to stop and thank God for past miracles and trust Him to see us through our current hardships.

Throughout the holiday, we remained attuned to the news and all its ramifications.  The top story for more than a week now has been the horrific demonstrations and violent attacks against Jews on American university campuses.  The focus is on Columbia University where pro-Hamas protesters have set up an encampment in the center of the campus, calling for the destruction of Israel and for Jews to “go back to where they came from.”  Whenever I hear that phrase I always wonder what they mean — to the ovens of Auschwitz, to the many countries who expelled us?  In truth, of course, Israel is where we came from, but these protesters never want to be confused with the truth.

More than 40 years ago, I was a student at Columbia University — 3 years as an undergraduate at Barnard College and 3 years as a student at the Law School.  That campus lawn where the encampment is now standing was a favorite place for me and my friends to gather and enjoy the spring weather between classes.  And my friends and I were mostly Orthodox, Zionist Jews.  I met my husband at Shabbat services on campus and he was in charge of the Shabbat meals and accompanying Shabbat celebrations.  During my junior  year, I ran the campus Zionist organization.  Jews were welcomed at Columbia and we were encouraged to express our faith and our ideologies freely.  No more.  It is a tragedy to see what has happened at my alma mater, to see that Jews are being threatened and the overwhelming narrative on campus is that of Hamas. 

This may well mirror developments in the US as a whole as well as in countries all over the world.  Recent surveys indicate that the overwhelming majority of Americans support Israel in this conflict. But the overwhelming narrative in the press, on university campuses, in the UN and in some local political circles, favors Hamas.  This is truly frightening and should set off alarm bells for us all.

Here in Israel, our government seems mired in indecision, waffling between an attack against Rafah and a potential hostage deal.  Rafah is Hamas’ last major stronghold, at the southern edge of Gaza and both the Americans and Egypt are pressuring Israel not to enter that area.  But military experts in Israel are united in their assessment that without an attack on Rafah, Hamas will remain undefeated.  And without a defeated Hamas, it is just a matter of time before another October 7th occurs, this time perhaps in Judea and Samaria!

Meanwhile, Hamas is playing with Israel, manipulating the hostage negotiations to force Israel to its knees.  For weeks now, the IDF has been maintaining a minimal presence in Gaza, carrying out targeted missions against known terrorist enclaves.  The lack of offensive initiatives in Gaza has been attributed to the desire to coax Hamas into a hostage release agreement.  Many are critical of this approach, believing that only ramping up the military heat on Hamas will ultimately lead to a hostage deal.  Others are disappointed that the  potential hostage deal will only release 20-30 hostages. 

There are a total of 133 hostages still being held by Hamas, of which 36 have been confirmed murdered, leaving 97 hostages presumed alive.  At a minimum, the International Red Cross should have visited these hostages and confirmed their condition.  We don’t even know if there are more than 30 hostages alive!  If we agree to a hostage release deal now and receive only a few hostages in return for a prolonged cease-fire, there will be nothing left to pressure Hamas to return the rest of the hostages. 

We have lost faith in our government and in the highest echelons of the IDF whose negligence put us in this mess to begin with.  The ongoing stagnation of the campaign against Hamas with no real end in sight, contributes to the lack of trust that so many, both from the right and from the left, are feeling in our leadership.  It is at times like these that the phrase from the Passover Seder rings truer than ever before:  In each generation there are those who try to destroy us but God saves us.  Join me in prayer for a Divine miracle.  We so desperately need it!



4 thoughts on “We Can Only Trust in God”

  1. Praying with you for a miracle, and that the War Cabinet will be strong and resolute and ignore the pressure from the Biden administration.
    They are ignorant of the fact that it is foolish and dangerous to go against the G-d of Israel, and against His Word.


  2. Even if HAMAS were to allow Red Cross personnel to check on the remaining hostages, such Red Cross members may very well be taken hostages themselves. But what about Red Crescent personnel? This is the Islamic counterpart to the Red Cross.

  3. It is a dance. America and Egypt pretend to oppose the Rafah invasion, but know it is necessary and inevitable. The government and the military pretend to stumble, leaving an impression of indecision. It is just a dance to encourage our prayers to Yeshua for his answer to come forth.


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