Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Thieves, Protection, Law and an Email


Thieves, Protection, Law and an Email

How's that for a title? 

Every once in a while, a wave of thefts plague our city of Maale Adumim. Most times, it turns out to be the Bedouins, who live in the dry river bed and across the mountain. Sometimes, it is Arabs from nearby neighborhoods and yes, there have been times when it was Jews. The Bedouins have an interesting and simple life, for the most part and there are times in my hectic run to and from one meeting to another, that I almost envy them. A Bedouin once tried to explain his theory of life and theft. According to this kind man who felt hospitality was not just a virtue, but an obligation - we all own things. If he can steal...I mean take...something from you, it is your fault, not his. It isn't theft because if God had not wanted him to have it, he would not have been able to steal...I mean take...it from you.

After a short time of trying to explain my philosophy, I gave up. Different worlds, different philosophies. I also gave up trying to convince a very nice Arab from Hebron that polygamy wasn't right. He asked if I wouldn't prefer my husband to move his second wife in with me, rather than sneak off and cheat somewhere. As I couldn't fathom being one of two (or more) wives, he simply couldn't understand the concept that I'd be handing my incredibly beloved husband the door. In his world, the first wife's only option would be to return in disgrace to her father's home - in my world, the man would walk around with the "first" wife's footprint on his...well, never mind.

Getting back to the Bedouins that have settled around my city. Every once in a while, usually at night, they climb up the mountains to my city and try to enter a house, and, if God lets them, they take whatever they can. For the most part, when Bedouins enter, they rob, but do not harm. They want property. That doesn't mean they can't or won't cause physical harm when confronted, but rather it isn't their intended result.

By contract, when Arabs enter a Jewish home with criminal and/or terrorist intent - as we have learned to our great anguish, it is not possible to predict the outcome. There have been a series of carjackings by Arabs in recent weeks. They have targeted lone women drivers. When they see them, they block the woman's car with another; then smash the windows and pull her out. One woman was injured when she was dragged with the car. Luckily, she was able to separate from the car before more serious injury was caused.

Two weeks ago, there were a series of break-ins in Maale Adumim - including one in my neighborhood - a religious area that is known to be quiet on Fridays and Shabbat. Cars do not travel into, out of, or through the neighborhood unless it is security (or a medical emergency). During the robbery, the thieves took light things - jewelry, money, a child's iPod. The first time it happened, the robbers got away clean. The family returned from eating with neighbors (friends of Aliza) to find they'd been robbed. I do not know what the police know of the identity of the robber. Last week, again on Friday night, the family returned. This time and it was Arabs who were in the process of robbing their home and with a quick call to the police, the Arabs were caught.

Yesterday morning, driving into the city, I checked my email (Elie was driving). One of the main rabbis in our community and the spiritual leader of what I believe is the largest synagogue in our area, a man well loved and respected even by those who attend other synagogues, sent out an email. On the Sabbath, we do not use the telephone, except in what is considered life-threatening circumstances.

To save a life, Judaism takes a very broad definition of life-threatening. For example, few women in today's society - certainly in Israel, face death when giving birth. Prenatal care is almost universally available with our national health care system we pay virtually nothing for the most modern health checkups and facilities. And yet, where there is potential, the law is clear. If a woman goes into labor on the Sabbath - an ambulance is called, a car driven.

My oldest daughter was born on Rosh Hashana - the celebration of the new year. Like the Sabbath, it is a day we do not drive, do not use electricity, money, telephones. I woke in the morning - she was my first. How was I supposed to know that this was really labor? Denial was so much easier. I dressed and told my somewhat surprised husband and mother-in-law that I wanted to go to the synagogue. They probably thought I was insane, but they went along. I sat beside my mother-in-law and every nine or ten minutes tensed up as a cramp distracted me. Was this labor? I didn't care so long as I could pretend that things were normal.

Suddenly, the rabbi of the synagogue, a man who I respected greatly, came into the women's section and called me out. I wondered if I had done something wrong. As soon as we got outside, I saw my wonderful and worried husband standing there - along with three men. Doctors, it seems, that the rabbi had gathered. "Are you in labor?" the rabbi asked me in front of the men.

Leave me alone, I wanted to tell him. "I don't know," I said quietly. "Maybe." I was so embarrassed standing there in what seemed like a world of men.

"What should she do?" he asked the doctors, who universally answered that I should be checked and be in touch with my doctor. I was having none of that. I could go back inside and stand near my mother-in-law and pretend that this birthing thing wasn't going to happen, or I could face reality and these men. Oh, I desperately wanted to go away from them, even my husband who seemed to be nodding proudly.

There is a beautiful tradition on Rosh Hashana to blow the shofar or ram's horn. At the bottom of this post is a beautiful video of someone showing how it sounds. I insisted I'd go call the doctor - AFTER I'd heard the shofar. I'd have promised anything, if they'd leave me alone.

It seems the will of the many was stronger and my body was quite insistent. The rabbi himself insisted on blowing the shofar for me IN HIS OFFICE...NOW...and when that was done and I still hesitated in picking up the phone and calling my doctor on this holy day, the rabbi picked up the phone himself - on Rosh Hashana and dialed the number. It was that moment that made me understand - for pikuach nefesh - the saving of a life, you break Shabbat (or Rosh Hashana). My baby was going to be born and I had to take care of her.

So, what does all this have to do with today's post and the recent thefts? The email addressed the question about whether it is permissible to call the police in the event of a break-in on Shabbat. If you think about it from a simplistic point of view, once the robbers leave the house, is anyone's life in danger? For what purpose would you violate the Sabbath? The email is entitled "Is it permissible to call the police in the event of a break-in?" followed by the rabbi's name.

His answer is clear and unequivocal. I love his answer - but more, I love the fact that he felt it relevant enough to send it to hundreds of people in my neighborhood - I view this as a slice of what my community is like, a slice of Israel, a slice of what it is to be a Jew in a land of Jews.

Here's his note (and the video after that):

Is it permissible to call the police to report a break-in on Shabbat?  Rav Elisha Aviner
Question: Approximately one month ago there was a break-in on Shabbat night in the neighborhood. Last Shabbat night there was an additional attempted break-in. The burglars were Arab. Is it permissible to call the police on Shabbat to report the break-in?
Answer: Not only is it permissible to call the police, but one must report it immediately. The reason is simple: the saving of a life takes precedence over Shabbat. Therefore, it takes precedence not only to make the phone call but also takes precedence in regard to all of the police activity to locate the thieves.
This is a clear ruling in the Shulchan Aruch [called the Code of Jewish Law, an authoritative legal code of Judaism] “In a city that is on the frontier, even if [non-Jews] came only to take (or destroy) property, Shabbat is put aside”. Maale Adumim is “a city that is on the frontier”, surrounded by Arab villages and a hostile population. The Israel Police does not regard break-ins in Maale Adumim by the Arab population as just property crimes, but rather as actions that endanger life. A break-in is liable to end in bodily harm, Heaven forbid. A kitchen knife or iron bar can be used as murder weapon, Heaven forbid. On this there is no dispute. Even if the thief fails to steal and escapes, there is a requirement to capture him in order to prevent additional attempts by him or his conspirators in crime.

Also regarding burglary attempts in the central cities that are not on the frontier, there are great poskim [judges or rabbis that rule on the law] that have instructed that it is permissible to alert the police on Shabbat, lest crime increase on Shabbat and its end will be the endangerment of life. This is the halachic basis for the actions of the police on Shabbat (patrols, etc.). Event those who disagree with this opinion do not doubt that in Maale Adumim, which is on the frontier, there is a full requirement to alert the police immediately for every attempted break-in on Shabbat whether Arab or Beduin.

All of the above is simple and clear, therefore I will not trouble the reader with references to halachic sources and responsa that are based on the above. Anyone interested is invited to turn to me.

The local police is doing its best to capture the thieves and put an end to this phenomena, as I have heard recently from the Commander of the Maale Adumim Police. However the police cannot do this alone, they need the alertness on our part and our immediate reporting of incidents.

We should merit “the One who spreads the sukka of peace upon us and upon all of His people Yisrael” and “Shabbat is relief from anguish”.

How's that for a title?

Every once in a while, a wave of thefts plague our city of Maale Adumim. Most times, it turns out to be the Bedouins, who live in the dry river bed and across the mountain. Sometimes, it is Arabs from nearby neighborhoods and yes, there have been times when it was Jews. The Bedouins have an interesting and simple life, for the most part and there are times in my hectic run to and from one meeting to another, that I almost envy them. A Bedouin once tried to explain his theory of life and theft. According to this kind man who felt hospitality was not just a virtue, but an obligation - we all own things. If he can steal...I mean take...something from you, it is your fault, not his. It isn't theft because if God had not wanted him to have it, he would not have been able to steal...I mean take...it from you.

After a short time of trying to explain my philosophy, I gave up. Different worlds, different philosophies. I also gave up trying to convince a very nice Arab from Hebron that polygamy wasn't right. He asked if I wouldn't prefer my husband to move his second wife in with me, rather than sneak off and cheat somewhere. As I couldn't fathom being one of two (or more) wives, he simply couldn't understand the concept that I'd be handing my incredibly beloved husband the door. In his world, the first wife's only option would be to return in disgrace to her father's home - in my world, the man would walk around with the "first" wife's footprint on his...well, never mind.

Getting back to the Bedouins that have settled around my city. Every once in a while, usually at night, they climb up the mountains to my city and try to enter a house, and, if God lets them, they take whatever they can. For the most part, when Bedouins enter, they rob, but do not harm. They want property. That doesn't mean they can't or won't cause physical harm when confronted, but rather it isn't their intended result.

By contract, when Arabs enter a Jewish home with criminal and/or terrorist intent - as we have learned to our great anguish, it is not possible to predict the outcome. There have been a series of carjackings by Arabs in recent weeks. They have targeted lone women drivers. When they see them, they block the woman's car with another; then smash the windows and pull her out. One woman was injured when she was dragged with the car. Luckily, she was able to separate from the car before more serious injury was caused. 

Two weeks ago, there were a series of break-ins in Maale Adumim - including one in my neighborhood - a religious area that is known to be quiet on Fridays and Shabbat. Cars do not travel into, out of, or through the neighborhood unless it is security (or a medical emergency). During the robbery, the thieves took light things - jewelry, money, a child's iPod. The first time it happened, the robbers got away clean. The family returned from eating with neighbors (friends of Aliza) to find they'd been robbed. I do not know what the police know of the identity of the robber. Last week, again on Friday night, the family returned. This time and it was Arabs who were in the process of robbing their home and with a quick call to the police, the Arabs were caught. 

Yesterday morning, driving into the city, I checked my email (Elie was driving). One of the main rabbis in our community and the spiritual leader of what I believe is the largest synagogue in our area, a man well loved and respected even by those who attend other synagogues, sent out an email. On the Sabbath, we do not use the telephone, except in what is considered life-threatening circumstances. 

To save a life, Judaism takes a very broad definition of life-threatening. For example, few women in today's society - certainly in Israel, face death when giving birth. Prenatal care is almost universally available with our national health care system we pay virtually nothing for the most modern health checkups and facilities. And yet, where there is potential, the law is clear. If a woman goes into labor on the Sabbath - an ambulance is called, a car driven.

My oldest daughter was born on Rosh Hashana - the celebration of the new year. Like the Sabbath, it is a day we do not drive, do not use electricity, money, telephones. I woke in the morning - she was my first. How was I supposed to know that this was really labor? Denial was so much easier. I dressed and told my somewhat surprised husband and mother-in-law that I wanted to go to the synagogue. They probably thought I was insane, but they went along. I sat beside my mother-in-law and every nine or ten minutes tensed up as a cramp distracted me. Was this labor? I didn't care so long as I could pretend that things were normal.

Suddenly, the rabbi of the synagogue, a man who I respected greatly, came into the women's section and called me out. I wondered if I had done something wrong. As soon as we got outside, I saw my wonderful and worried husband standing there - along with three men. Doctors, it seems, that the rabbi had gathered. "Are you in labor?" the rabbi asked me in front of the men.

Leave me alone, I wanted to tell him. "I don't know," I said quietly. "Maybe." I was so embarrassed standing there in what seemed like a world of men.

"What should she do?" he asked the doctors, who universally answered that I should be checked and be in touch with my doctor. I was having none of that. I could go back inside and stand near my mother-in-law and pretend that this birthing thing wasn't going to happen, or I could face reality and these men. Oh, I desperately wanted to go away from them, even my husband who seemed to be nodding proudly.

There is a beautiful tradition on Rosh Hashana to blow the shofar or ram's horn. At the bottom of this post is a beautiful video of someone showing how it sounds. I insisted I'd go call the doctor - AFTER I'd heard the shofar. I'd have promised anything, if they'd leave me alone.

It seems the will of the many was stronger and my body was quite insistent. The rabbi himself insisted on blowing the shofar for me IN HIS OFFICE...NOW...and when that was done and I still hesitated in picking up the phone and calling my doctor on this holy day, the rabbi picked up the phone himself - on Rosh Hashana and dialed the number. It was that moment that made me understand - for pikuach nefesh - the saving of a life, you break Shabbat (or Rosh Hashana). My baby was going to be born and I had to take care of her.

So, what does all this have to do with today's post and the recent thefts? The email addressed the question about whether it is permissible to call the police in the event of a break-in on Shabbat. If you think about it from a simplistic point of view, once the robbers leave the house, is anyone's life in danger? For what purpose would you violate the Sabbath? The email is entitled "Is it permissible to call the police in the event of a break-in?" followed by the rabbi's name.

His answer is clear and unequivocal. I love his answer - but more, I love the fact that he felt it relevant enough to send it to hundreds of people in my neighborhood - I view this as a slice of what my community is like, a slice of Israel, a slice of what it is to be a Jew in a land of Jews.

Here's his note (and the video after that):
Is it permissible to call the police to report a break-in on Shabbat? Rav Elisha Aviner
Question:
Approximately one month ago there was a break-in on Shabbat night in the neighborhood. Last Shabbat night there was an additional attempted break-in. The burglars were Arab. Is it permissible to call the police on Shabbat to report the break-in? 
Answer:
Not only is it permissible to call the police, but one must report it immediately. The reason is simple: the saving of a life takes precedence over Shabbat. Therefore, it takes precedence not only to make the phone call but also takes precedence in regard to all of the police activity to locate the thieves. 
This is a clear ruling in the Shulchan Aruch [called the Code of Jewish Law, an authoritative legal code of Judaism] “In a city that is on the frontier, even if [non-Jews] came only to take (or destroy) property, Shabbat is put aside”. Maale Adumim is “a city that is on the frontier”, surrounded by Arab villages and a hostile population. The Israel Police does not regard break-ins in Maale Adumim by the Arab population as just property crimes, but rather as actions that endanger life. 
A break-in is liable to end in bodily harm, Heaven forbid. A kitchen knife or iron bar can be used as murder weapon, Heaven forbid. On this there is no dispute. Even if the thief fails to steal and escapes, there is a requirement to capture him in order to prevent additional attempts by him or his conspirators in crime.
Also regarding burglary attempts in the central cities that are not on the frontier, there are great poskim [judges or rabbis that rule on the law] that have instructed that it is permissible to alert the police on Shabbat, lest crime increase on Shabbat and its end will be the endangerment of life. This is the halachic basis for the actions of the police on Shabbat (patrols, etc.). Event those who disagree with this opinion do not doubt that in Maale Adumim, which is on the frontier, there is a full requirement to alert the police immediately for every attempted break-in on Shabbat whether Arab or Bedouin. 
All of the above is simple and clear, therefore I will not trouble the reader with references to halachic sources and responsa that are based on the above. Anyone interested is invited to turn to me. 
The local police is doing its best to capture the thieves and put an end to this phenomena, as I have heard recently from the Commander of the Maale Adumim Police. However the police cannot do this alone, they need the alertness on our part and our immediate reporting of incidents.
We should merit “the One who spreads the sukka [canopy] of peace upon us and upon all of His people Yisrael” and “Shabbat is relief from anguish”.


http://israelisoldiersmother.blogspot.com/2012/02/theives-protection-law-and-email.html