Thoughts On The Release Of Gilad Shalit

The 20th of Tishri 5772, October 18, 2011, is a day that will stand out in Jewish history as the day that Gilad Shalit came home after being held captive for over 5 years. However, as much as we are grateful and appreciative to God and to all those in the Israeli government who worked tirelessly for his safe return, today can not be a day of complete and utter Simcha, joy. Gilad Shalit’s freedom came at the cost of the release of over 1000 terrorists who committed unspeakable acts against Israeli citizens.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu faced an incredible challenge today. On the one hand he returned Gilad to his parents. On the other hand, he had to think of the pain that parents, spouses, children, siblings and other family members of victims of terror are going through today. I can not imagine how difficult that must have been for him. No one can judge him, and no one can know what it is like to stand in the Prime Minister’s shoes.

All I want to offer is an observation. When I heard the news that Gilad was about to be freed and what the cost would be, I was preparing for a wedding I will be performing in several weeks. My mind immediately went to the braking of the glass at the end of the wedding ceremony. Why do we break a glass at the end of a wedding ceremony? We do it to remember the destruction of theBeit Hamikdash, the Temple in Jerusalem thousands of years ago, the loss of Jewish sovereignty over Israel and that resulting exile. Even though Israel has been returned to the Jewish people, there are still challenges and problems in Israel throughout the world. The joy of the couple on their wedding day can not be complete. We need to think of the bitter that comes along with the sweet.

Often in life, where there is something that is bitter, there is also sweetness. The opposite is also true, where there is something that is sweet, there is also bitterness. Today was a sweet day, but there was some bitterness. In the words of the Kotzker Rebbe, the great Chasidic master, “There is nothing as whole as a broken heart”. As we go forward from today, let our hearts always be whole and always be broken at the same time.