Ask the Rabbi: “It’s the state we are in”

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Ask the Rabbi: “It’s the state we are in”

Ask the Rabbi with Yitzchak Schochet….

Ask the Rabbi

What’s in a hebrew name?

Dear Rabbi,

I was given the name Eve by my parents but no Hebrew name. I’m getting married soon and need a Hebrew name for our Ketubah. It seems obvious to me that my Hebrew name would be Chava, but my understanding is that Eve is connected with “evil” because of the negativity she brought into the world by eating from the Tree of Knowledge. Can you suggest a different name?


Dear Eve,

You’re right that the Hebrew for Eve is Chava. However, Chava was not so-called because she was evil. Quite the contrary. It’s the name Adam gave her after they were sent from the Garden of Eden, following their sin.

As soon as God confronted Adam about eating from the tree, he pointed a finger of blame at his wife and said: “She made me do it!” And as the commentators readily observe, “He was ungrateful”. Adam found his perfect soul-mate in Chava. He didn’t need to date her for years then go into therapy to figure out if she was the right woman. She was the perfect spouse – beautiful in every way. She gave him love, warmth, companionship. No sooner does God challenge him for eating from the tree, what is his immediate response?

“She made me do it!” Really? You need to shift the blame? You can’t man up and take responsibility for your own actions? In all of creation it says: “And God saw that it was good.” In but only one instance God said “it was not good” – “It is not good for man to be alone. I will create for him a helpmate. I will give him a partner who will fulfil him and make him complete.” And then, when one thing goes wrong, like many a good Jewish husband: “It’s your fault!”

He immediately points the finger of blame at the one person who gave him what he lacked – who brought him enduring bliss. He can’t get paradise back – his light went out. But Chava rekindles it within him. She gives him cause to live once more and the courage to carry on. He takes a step back to look properly at the woman that stood with him through thick and thin and he comes to a better understanding and deeper appreciation of everything she adds to his life. Hence he calls her Chava, because he recognises the value of this woman who is the forebear of all life. Isn’t that then a most appropriate name and a beautiful way to step into marriage? At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lit the flame within us.

It’s the state we are in

Dear Rabbi,

Tensions are rising again in Israel. If a two-state solution can be agreed with Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state, could we finally have peace? I know it’s a heavy price to pay, but think of all the lives spared in the process. I write this as an Israeli who cares deeply for her people and country.


Dear Karine,

I’d like to think so, but there’s a far bigger issue at stake. Here’s what I observed from an endless stream of videos on Facebook over the past three weeks: nine-year-olds throwing rocks, shattering glass on babies as they drive cars. Fifteen-year-olds throwing boulders, killing fathers as they returned from holiday meals. Nineteen-year-olds stabbing a mother, father and child as they stroll ancient corridors of Jerusalem.

Twenty-two-year-olds shooting parents dead before their children. Women screaming, accosting and cursing Jews as they walk holy ground. There is an inbred culture of hate which will not dissolve or disappear because they suddenly have their own state. Our five-year-olds suffer from the  Fsirens and sounds of rockets falling. Our nine-year-olds watch their parents die before them.

Our 15-year- olds scream in fear beside their parents. Our 19-year-olds are in the army, defending their people against those who hate them. Our 22-year-olds die in wars, bombings and terror attacks yet cannot pray at their holiest site. Do we have faults and flaws among our own? Most certainly so. But if you ever wanted to consider why peace with such a hate-cultivating people is impossible, consider the reaction when someone dies.

If one of our own perpetuates an illegal act, he is summarily arrested and roundly condemned by the entire nation. When one of theirs carries out an act of terror, he is celebrated in the streets, hailed a hero by the leadership, and if he dies in the process he might even get a street named after him. Talk to me about nurturing peace at grassroots level, Karine, dispelling with the myths and the animosity and we could then consider all options.

Until then, I’d rather see us protecting our own turf than exposing ourselves to further risk and endangerment. In an ideal world, you may well be right. But we are not living in an ideal world. Here’s hoping and here’s praying.

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