I read this week in the Israeli press about a Syrian boy who became “addicted” to matzah in an Israeli hospital. This seven year old boy underwent 17 operations in Syria, after being hit by a mortar shell in the raging civil war. The Syrian doctors informed the kid’s mother that they can’t do more for her son at this stage, and that he will probably never be able to walk again. The mother didn’t give up, and managed to have her son transferred to Israel, where he is currently being taken care of by a world class-doctor in Ziv Hospital in the city of Sefat. The Israeli medical team managed to reverse the decree, thank G-d, and the child will be able to walk again BH. Right now, the kid can walk with a walker, and enjoys eating matzah in an Israeli hospital…
Other Syrian patients in the Israeli hospital asked about the significance and origin of the matzah they were given to eat, and also found meaning and strength in the Passover story that they learned from the medical staff. The Passover story about the ancient Hebrews’ struggle for freedom from oppression and tyranny, strongly resonated with them.
In the brutal civil war in Syria millions lost their homes, and over two hundred thousand were killed. The belligerent parties are all despotic and non-democratic. They gas each other, behead each other, and perpetrate other such unspeakable atrocities against each other. And they all vehemently hate Israel, and do not recognize the Jewish State’s right to exist. And they also support terror attacks against innocent Israeli civilians in Israel, and targeting Jewish institutions around the world. And still, the Jewish State takes in their wounded children, their aching injured men and women, and gives them hope, healing, the world’s finest medical care for free, and a new lease on life.
Freedom gives us the nobility of spirit, and the inner fortitude, not to fall into the abyss of demonic hatred. Freedom empowers us to recognize the humanity of all, including our worst enemies. Because we are free, politically and spiritually, we can do that which is good and that which is right, even in such trying circumstances.
These noble acts by the State of Israel should make us all proud. They stem from the deepest fountains of Jewish spirituality and ethics. Predictably, the international media is not particularly interested in this story. But we still do it. We still perform these acts of loving kindness. We do it “Leshem Shamayim”, which means “For the sake of Heaven”. And this indeed makes us proud of the only Jewish state in the world, and of the humanitarian streaks of our tradition. So let us walk tall and proud and Jews, and stand together in unity, devotion and brotherhood before G-d, during the coming Passover and Shabbat services, and beyond.