Sunday, January 12, 2014

Assessing Ariel Sharon's Life

י"ב לחודש האחד עשר תשע"ד

This past Shabbath, Ariel Sharon, who served as Israel's Prime Minister from 2001/תשס"א to 2006/תשס"ו, died, after being in a coma for eight years.

בראשית כג
א וַיִּהְיוּ חַיֵּי שָׂרָה, מֵאָה שָׁנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה וְשֶׁבַע שָׁנִים--שְׁנֵי, חַיֵּי שָׂרָה. ב וַתָּמָת שָׂרָה, בְּקִרְיַת אַרְבַּע הִוא חֶבְרוֹן--בְּאֶרֶץ כְּנָעַן; וַיָּבֹא, אַבְרָהָם, לִסְפֹּד לְשָׂרָה, וְלִבְכֹּתָהּ.

Genesis 23
1. And the life of Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Qiriyath-Arba--the same is Hevron--in the land of Canaan; and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Now, before you start yelling at me for daring to invoke the name of the righteous Sarah Immenu in a piece about Ariel Sharon, please just keep reading, and you will see why I have done so.

Regarding these verses, it has been asked (please help me out with the source here), "Why does the 'Life of Sarah" begin with her death?"

The answer I have heard to this is that only after person's death can that person's life be fully assessed.

The on-line chatter has already crowded the various news media with anything from fantastical praise for Ariel Sharon to ultra-demonization. He was the Hero of the Six Day War; he participated in the "Saison" Jew-hunting in the 1940's.

Anything and everything you wanted to know about Ariel Sharon, and perhaps did not want to know about Ariel Sharon, is for the most part, available on-line, including theories as to whether he was even Jewish, and what actually put him into a coma in the first place.

The point of the verses from Genesis, and subsequent midrash, is to demonstrate that even in Sharon's case, only now can his life be fully assessed. Apparently, even the exact time of his final departure from this world may have significance.

Of course, in Sarah Immenu's case, Rashi says of the years of her life that, "all of them were for the good."

I doubt that anyone could say this of Ariel Sharon.

However, I do not intend to enter the debate over whether Sharon was an angel or a devil, or anything in between the two. I simply intend to point out few observations, which I am not so sure that anyone else has yet to make, and then let you draw your own conclusions.

President Shimon Peres places wreath next to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, lying in state.
(Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO - edited)

First of all, he dies this past Shabbath afternoon, at which time the plugs were pulled, an action completely unnecessary to keep him alive, quite the opposite, in fact. Shabbath was the furthest thing from the minds of this secular family. I get that. So, let's move on to the photo above.

Sharon is "lying in State" in Jerusalem, something which goyim (non-Jews) do. Jews, on the other hand, are supposed to be buried, as soon as possible. Often, the maximum number of days to wait is considered by most to be three, under normal circumstances. But, in the Holy City of Jerusalem, the custom is to bury the deceased with 24 hours. For this reason, Jerusalem is the only city in the world where Jewish funerals are routinely conducted at night, as well as during the day.

Next, we see Israeli President Shimon Peres observing another goyshe custom, that of placing flowers next to the deceased.

Were the customs observed for other Israeli prime ministers and government officials? I think that we can safely assume so. Then, perhaps, it is unfair to single out Sharon.

My point here is that assessing Sharon's life does not have to entail the complexities of delving into the events in his life or the various actions he took.

The non-Jewish treatment of Ariel Sharon in death is reflective of his treatment of the people and the country he led in life. Sometimes his decisions were wise, those requiring practical strategies which can be permissible to learn from goyim. But, when required to formulate decisions not based on such wisdom, he failed.

1 comment:

Devorah Chayah said...

Very interesting points. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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