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Drying Esau’s Tears

When I arrived at the city graveyard in Flensburg to participate in the Kristallnacht commemoration, I noted that the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries lay side by side..

When I arrived at the city graveyard in Flensburg to participate in the Kristallnacht commemoration, I noted that the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries lay side by side..

(Quick Comment Toldot, Genesis 25:19 -28:9)

In Flensburg, Germany, the Jewish and Muslim cemeteries peacefully lie side by side.

The Torah makes clear (Genesis 25:23) that it was Jacob’s destiny to receive his father’ blessing. But who can remain unmoved by Esau’s bitter tears as he twice pleads with his father, “’Please bless me too, my father,’ and he lifted up his voice and wept.” (Genesis 27:38)?

After he appropriates his brother’s blessing Jacob lives in fear of Esau’s retribution for 20 years. As he returns home, he hears that Esau is approaching with a war-regiment of 400 men.

When he becomes Israel, Jacob sends Esau a most generous peace offering and reconciles with his brother. He turns a potentially deadly clash into a warm embrace.

What’s in this story for us today?

Had there been an Israel in 1935, we would not have to commemorate the Holocaust today. Israel’s existence as a homeland and potential refuge for Jews is not negotiable.

But we cannot deny that Israel’s existence was won at bitter cost to the people of Esau, the Arab world of today.

As in the biblical story, Israel must dry Esau’s tears to truly claim the greatness of its biblical destiny.

If the price of peace is that Israel must walk off the map and the pages of history, then the price is too great.

But in my heart I believe that—despite the decades of intractable conflict—there must be a way for Israel and her neighbors to live in peace, and I pray that they find it.

At the Flensburg cemetery, I saw how peacefully Jews and Muslims lie together in death. May they one day find a way to live together in peace as well!

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