Israel, Religion

Tikkun Leil Rabin

In Israel, the anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination is usually marked with commemorative ceremonies. While ceremonies can be nice, they can’t do much more then recall a date, and perhaps make us feel a little sad. While that is important, ceremonies quickly become trite, they don’t interest most people, and they don’t do anything to answer the underlying flaws in our society that allowed the murder to take place.
If ceremonies don’t work, what other options are there? Many, including Amit Gevaryahu, a frequent contributor to the comments here, have likened Rabin’s murder to the biblical murder of Gedalyahu ben Achikam. If they are similar, then perhaps a fast day would also be the best answer here? However, in that same article Amit recognizes that despite having a fast day commemorating his own death, most people do not know who Gedalyah was, or why he was killed. Fasts quickly become only nuisances. Another problem with marking Rabin’s death with a fast day is that even if it is done well, fasts create mourning and sadness, and while appropriate, I think a good response will do more then make us cry.
This year, Mimizrach Shemesh – The Center for Jewish Social Justice Leadership is sponsoring a night of learning, a Tikkun Leil Rabbin at centers across the country. At Hebrew University, Hillel is hosting a program on October 31 that will include a lecture by Dr. Micha Goodman titled, “Social Justice Leadership in a Time of Crisis,” followed by Jewish text study and discussion.
I am very excited about this initiative, and plan on being there Tuesday night. Rabin’s death was a direct result of the misinterpretation of Torah, and one of the most important things we can do to atone for the crime is to fix those errors. Engaging torah in a positive discussion of what it means to be just, of what it means to be a leader, and of what it means to be Jewish, is precisely that antidote. Torah was perverted and tragedy resulted, please God, an honest relationship with Torah and open discussion will lead to blessing.

11 thoughts on “Tikkun Leil Rabin

  1. I like the idea of tikkun leil rabbin. First, because it connects the history of the modern state of Israel with actual Jewish content – the use of the torah to justify assassination of a democratically elected leader.
    However, by making Rabin into St. Rabin (like St. Kennedy) we lose the opportunity to really examine the history of the time, and the full record of Rabin – which includes far more than the 90 minutes before his death. So instead of ‘Tzom Rabin’ I’d prefer ‘Tzom Retzach Rosh Hamemshala” or ‘Tzom Retzach Rabin’ So that the focus is on the act of torah sanctioned murder, and not on the man himself and his history.
    Ultimately, I think that Yigal Amir has, and deserves to have a greater historic importance than Rabin. Imagine if you will if Wilkes Booth had killed Lincoln two years earlier, and the North lost the war. In such a case, Booth would have been the pre-eminent historical figure – not Lincoln. (as the slaves would not have been freed, etc.)
    Rabin lost his war for the peace. Lost, lost, lost. It’s sad – but I’ll reserve my hagiography for the one who – god willing, in my day – actually wins.

  2. Josh seems like a serious guy and I don’t want to spoil his great thought process. But.
    If you desire, you can see the entire court file online in hebrew as well as videos. It is not as it seems to you. Everything is being exposed to the public against the wishes of the Israeli establishment. So don’t start fasting yet, till you know exactly what happened on November 4th, 1995.

  3. Big up to all my peoples at Mimizrach Shemesh! Almog, Anat, Nati, Zohar, etc. I miss you all. I hope the event goes well.

  4. “Fasts create mourning and sadness”. While in our anthropocentric culture we prefer to read fasts that way, we should remember that Jewish tradition does not associate fasting with mourning. Rather, a fast is a form of wakeup call. By denying ourselves food for one day we feel that we are in real trouble, that we are lacking and needy, and that this want has been brought about by our forsaking of God.
    Rabin’s assassination – and I agree with charles that the assassination is the focal point here – is linked closely and directly with “Religious” Zionism’s breaking with morality and justice and shifting its focus to land and machismo. The blood spilled by Yigal Amir (shem reshaim yirqav) is a defiling of the entire Religious Zionist ideology and while there are probably more effective ways of expiation, fasting is the only one we have.

  5. What amazes me is the total lack of a single disenting voice in the parade of comments to this post. The fact that every commentor accepts as fact/truth that the entire Religious Zionist movement is guilty because of the actions of one misguided (and apparently manipulated) individual reflects more on you and your distorted perception of reality that the ideological group Yigal Amir nominally belonged to.

  6. Yoel, it would be wrong to associate the entirely of religious zionism with the actions of Yigal Amir. In part, because tzaddikim like Netivot Shalom, folks like Moshe Halbertal, even Yishayahu Leibowitz and Yosef Burg are part and parcel of religious zionism as well.
    HOWEVER. I lived in Israel before the murder, and I can tell you that there was a large vocal minority of RZ’s using violent, extremist language and imagery. The larger majority surrounding them did not speak out. In fact, they accused the campaign against the use of violent language as being a device to somehow ‘silence’ the left.
    After the murder, the same people you are defending actually accepted partial responsibility. They said, we are guilty of not taking care of the ‘asavim shotim’ in our own community, but making it clear that they are beyond the pale.
    The murder of YR z”l represents the lowest point for RZ’s in recent decades.
    Fascism in Israel is supported by thugs in kippas and thugs with Russian accents.

  7. i think this has the potential to be an excellent idea. maybe this is representative of my presumption as an American Jew, but I wish there were some translated materials from this website, as this would also be a helpful source of learning for American Jews who may not be fluent in Hebrew, but were strongly affected by Rabin’s assassination and whose role in supporting/shaping the state of Israel, albeit possibly merely financially and rhetorically, is arguably as important as those for whom Hebrew is a living language. Clearly, the issue of religion for various purposes is as salient in the US as anywhere, and Jews need to actively engage with this issue to prevent flip reactions on any side of the issue.

  8. amit (or someone else israeli)
    yes, I know I can read hebrew articles. but its slow going, and especially when I’m tired they get awfully intimidating. could you translate (or summarize) your article into english?

  9. This post provides a good opportunity to hone one’s skills at “Spot the Fanatic.”
    Yoel Ben-Avraham says, “What amazes me is the total lack of a single dissenting voice in the parade of comments to this post,” all of which presume “that the entire Religious Zionist movement is guilty because of the actions of one misguided (and apparently manipulated) individual.”
    Fascinating. Ben-Avaraham’s comment is the fifth one posted, meaning there were four previous comments in total. Pretty small fucking parade, I’d say. Moreover, exactly one of them even mentions a connection between Amir and Religious Zionism, while one other simply says his monstrous act of treason involved the use of the Torah to justify the crime; the latter doesn’t say a word about the Religious Zionists, much less attribute the assassination to the movement as a whole. Dissent from what, exactly?
    On the other hand, the transparent, self-serving nonsense that Rabin’s murder was the work of “one misguided individual” – some raving lunatic, uncontaminated by political or religious indoctrination – is absurd and offensive. If he was, indeed, “manipulated,” those members of the movement of which he was an integral part – yes, the Religious Zionists – ought to take responsibility for letting the rest of know who is was that did the manipulating? One thing I can assure you of is that the continued insistence that Amir was some isolated schizophrenic ain’t gonna make it. If the Religious Zionists continue to cling to the position that the identity of Amir’s ideological soul mates is none of their concern — they only know it isn’t them – then the rest us may well have to live with the imprecision of attributing responsibility to Religious Zionism as a whole.

  10. Essentially, what I said in my article was that religious responses to history are the only way to perpetuate memory and to turn something from news into history. Gedalia’s fast is a case in point: those who fast, remember. those who don’t fast couldn’t care less. and its the same for rabin.
    What I didn’t write (but believe anyway) is that Rabin’s assassination should especially prompt a religious response and be embedded in ritual, b/c is was a sin caused not by flaunting Torah, but by (in a perverted, terrible way) adhering to it. This has never, ever, happened before in Jewish “ritual memory” (except, so I claim, in the case of Gedalia)

  11. “The fact that every commentor accepts as fact/truth that the entire Religious Zionist movement is guilty because of the actions of one misguided (and apparently manipulated) individual…”
    Yoel, how did you come to that conclusion by reading my comments? I did not even mention religious Zionism. And what do you know about Mimizrach Shemesh? I met some very religious Zionists affiliated with the organization and I seriously doubt they would blame Rabin’s death on religious Zionism.

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