Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 | office@beki.org

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="http://www.cbrubin.net" target="_blank">www.cbrubin.net</a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT

The Cycle of Violence

The Torah tells of the conflict and partial reconciliation between Jacob and Esau, two brothers from a “dysfunctional family.”

Va-yomer im-yavo `Esav el-ha-mahane ha-ahat vehikkahu (whkhw) ve-haya ha-mahane ha-nishar li-feleita

Jacob was greatly frightened; in his anxiety, he divided the people with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two camps, thinking, “If Esau comes to the one camp and he attacks it, the other camp may yet escape.” (Genesis 32:8-9)

The Hebrew word והכהו ve-hikkahu (“and he attacks it”) is a palindrome; that is, it reads the same backward as forward. Our sages teach that this suggests that whenever one person strikes another, inevitably that act of violence has an equal and opposite reaction. One who strikes another thus begins a chain of actions which are likely to lead to more violence.

Ben Azzai said:
Run to perform a minor mitzva just as a major one,
and flee from an aveira (sin);
for one mitzva brings another,
and one aveira (sin) brings another. (Avot 4:2)

© Jon-Jay Tilsen