Silence can serve as a “gate to wisdom” — a pause for thinking, reflecting inwardly, listening, and disrupting our automatic reflexes. But silence can also serve untoward behaviors — for example, silence can envelope victims of sexual violence or predatory behavior. Disrupting this type of silence is a sacred task — both essential and praiseworthy.
We spend our lives on a spectrum between silence and rupture — moving between our tumultuous, action-filled existences, in which we seek out silence in order to stop and reflect on the direction in which we are moving, and the need, at times, to break a silence that we perceive to be destructive to our society or to a particular individual.
Knowing when we need silence and when it must be broken is critical. Upon one thing, everyone agrees: In order to figure out the answer to this dilemma, we need silence. We need existential quiet.
Last summer, the war in Gaza disrupted the quiet. Though in Israel we have known silence only sporadically, we have experienced fewer acts of terror and quieter borders over the past few years. It was in the framework of this reality that my eldest son enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces after a year of study at a yeshiva. He enlisted in the tank corps, and we accompanied him through each and every stage of his enlistment. We were very proud when he completed his training as a tank fighter and even more so when he graduated from a tank commander training course.
While we always knew that Israel could once again face hostilities and a war, we hoped to be spared this agony. We weren’t. Over the past summer, we experienced a very real and present existential fear. This rupture of silence is nothing like the silence that disrupts a tranquil life in order to deepen our perspective on life. This rupture brings complete uncertainty — not knowing what will become of our child, or his friends and comrades, or innocent Palestinians who have fallen victim to the manipulations of some of their own leaders.
Death came very close to our doorstep when the son of one of our close friends was killed in the war. We helped cradle our friends as they buried their child. Since that experience, I have come to believe that the present moment is the most important thing of all — being present in the moment and experiencing our lives and our children, here and now. I can no longer cling to the past, not saying “later” or “when we have time.” Now. Today.
The rupture of silence has changed the way I look at the world, how I understand the meaning of raising children and deciding to live in this country, and how I understand the value of peace. I have been forced to ask questions about the kind of life that is worth living, because suddenly, and particularly when young people are dying, the temporariness of life becomes very tangible. From this perspective, the war disrupted a silence that should be broken.email print