Jordan Kline Series, Book 1: The Taba Convention.
Jordan seeks the advice of the Chief Rabbi of Eilat on Jewish values.
from The Taba Convention by Stephen W. Ayers.
"Shalom," he said, "I need to go back to Eilat before we go to Nof Ha Arava."
"You must be fucking crazy, Jordan. Are you out of your mind? We cannot go back now, at least not you," he retorted.
"They will have figured that I am long gone by now and will be looking for the Punto. The last place they will be looking for me is Eilat. Please, I need to get "Okay, call me an idiot. Here we go," he answered, shaking his head.
Twenty minutes later Jordan guided Shalom through the industrial park and into Eilat the back way. Jordan told him where to park and Jordan got out of the car, instructing Shalom to wait in the darkness, ready to move.
This was something that Jordan needed to do before they drove to Nof Ha Arava, someone he needed to see. He had thought a lot about the events as they had unfolded so quickly. They had affected him deeply. Beyond the fact that he had become embroiled once more in violence, it was the first time that a Jew had raised a hand against a fellow Jew in this way—if Shalom was right about Alex’s murder. It looked very much like a professional job, one that could easily be the work of the Mossad. It shook his faith for the first time. He needed reassurance. He could not grasp the reality that the four had died and that Israelis might be behind the events, or at least connected. He was a secular Jew. He respected and loved the traditions of his faith and observed the holidays. He did not attend synagogue except when he accompanied Irit on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. He believed rather that it was important to be a good human being, to respect his fellow humans. He respected all faiths and the right to believe in them. It was fundamentalism that perverted the people, the radicals that preached hatred and death. There were extremists of all religions and nationalities, no faith had a monopoly on that. It had been that way down through the centuries and would probably be for many more.
He believed fervently in the rule of law. The government was elected democratically to act on behalf of all the citizens. You may not agree with some of their decisions, but they were the government. They decided and you followed. The armed forces acted on their decisions, as did all the branches of intelligence. Could it be that someone in the Mossad had taken the law into their own hands and had decided to act against his own government? It certainly seemed that way, and yet Jordan found it hard to believe and grasp the full meaning of his suspicions. That was why he was here to see the Chief Rabbi of Eilat, Yitzhak Carlebach.
He was standing in front of the Chief Rabbinate building on The Six Day Street named for the war. The Rabbinate was an ugly two-story grey concrete building. The same design flaw could be seen in many other buildings in the town. The windows faced the town rather than the inviting panorama of the bay of Aqaba spread out below. He wondered who had designed all these drab buildings and not taken advantage of showcasing the view. He focused on his visit and thought about the questions that he needed to ask the rabbi. He got out of the car. A stray cat was licking milk from a dirty bowl on the top step. He circumvented it and entered the Rabbinate.
Rabbi Carlebach saw him as he entered and came over to him. "Jordan, how very nice to see you on a social visit. It makes a pleasant change from your weekly visits to discuss infringements by your chefs cooking on the Sabbath!"
On many Saturdays the cooks had of necessity broken the Kashruth laws and cooked food on the Sabbath. They had done so because they had run out of the food prepared prior to the Sabbat and because they enjoyed playing a game of cat and mouse with the Rabbinate supervisors. On most occasions they had been caught, resulting in Jordan being called to the Rabbinate on Sunday to apologize and beg that the Kashruth certificate not be revoked. It was a ritual that many managers went through on a weekly basis. Rabbi Carlebach took these infringements good-heartedly.
Jordan laughed with the Rabbi. "Yes it does make a pleasant change, although you receive us with grace and patience every week. Probably much more patience than I would have in your place."
The Rabbi smiled. "We are here to correct wayward ways, Jordan, to teach the correct way and to have patience. It is our way." The Rabbi was a small man, no more than five-two Jordan guessed. He was approaching retirement but looked older. His skullcap sat on his head of white hair that seemed to blend in with his long unruly beard. It too was white and stretched down to the fourth button of his waistcoat. The waistcoat was part of the black suit with the long jacket commonly worn by the religious Jews. His intelligent brown eyes looked out from behind thick glasses perched upon a large straight nose. His skin was wrinkled beyond his years, his complexion pale and white. He was a wise man. Many of the townsfolk turned to him for advice, religious and secular alike.
"Please come to my office and enjoy a cup of coffee and cookies with me, Jordan. Then you can tell me what is on your mind. I will do my best as always to help you in any way, my son." He took Jordan by his arm and guided him down the corridor past classrooms full of young men studying the Torah.
Rabbi Carlebach poured Jordan a cup of coffee, took a sip from his cup, and settled back into his armchair.
He looked across at Jordan. "Now, what is on your mind Jordan? What is so important that you seek out my advice?"
"Well," Jordan started unsteadily, "first I would respectfully request that our conversation be in confidence."
"Of that you have my word," answered the old man.
Jordan collected his thoughts before he spoke. "Rabbi Carlebach, I served in the Golani brigade and many years in the service of the Mossad. During those years I saw unspeakable horrors. Worse, I committed many acts of violence myself, acts that I am not proud of."
The Rabbi cut in. "Jordan, please do not speak to me of these acts. I cannot forgive. I am not even a Catholic priest who can order you to repent with Hail Mary’s." He smiled and continued, "What I do know is that Israel has to survive. It is our country, the only safe home for us Jews. In order to survive we sometimes have to act in ways that are not in our character. But you did not come to tell me of your past I am sure."
"No, Rabbi, it is for something much more important and deeply troubling to me. I have learned of a plan to destroy the Taba Convention. I have learned of the deaths of four Jews that were in the Mossad." Jordan looked up at the Rabbi who was listening intently. "I have learned that other Jews may be behind their deaths, even if they did not murder them with their own hands. I have been taught that life is sacrosanct. I was brought up believing that never must one Jew take up arms against another. This is the cornerstone of our state, of our religion. Rabbi, I do not know how to understand and grasp this reality. I am lost. I am not sure how to react to this. It is the reason I came to you for guidance." Jordan finished and sat back in his chair, a troubled look on his face.
Rabbi Carlebach sat silently in his chair, his arms folded across his chest, his gaze on Jordan. Minutes went by, and then finally the Rabbi spoke.
"Jordan, I do not have all the answers, they are the property of "Ha Shem," the name. I am but his servant. I can however tell you this. This world is made up of many different people. Most live normal happy lives and contribute to society in many ways, some small, some large. Some are led astray by their beliefs and some act on those beliefs. The Nazis believed that we were not worthy to live on this earth and wiped out six million of us. The Arabs believe that we are living on their land and have done their best to throw us off this holy ground. In both cases our faith has carried us through the dark times. Now we have achieved independence in our own land, a Jewish state for all Jews who care to come and join us. We have reclaimed the land that is rightfully ours. The Jewish nation has risen from the ashes of the Second World War and must not be allowed to fail. It must not be allowed to fail at any cost, any cost however hard and brutal that may be. The army, the Mossad, the General Security Service—all act under the government, all act as one to defend the state." He paused and continued, "But all this you know. I only tell you to underline that whatever you did in the service you did for the state, and you did faithfully. You are not to blame for this service but to be proud of it. Our land is sacred."
The Rabbi looked at Jordan and sighed, "I too am deeply affected by what you have told me of this plan to destroy the peace convention. I am not in favor of giving land for peace, especially the settlements that have taken so long to develop and grow. Good people live there Jordan, true Israelis, true believers. The government has taken the decision to give back land and we must live with that decision. We can argue, we can demonstrate, that is our democratic right. What we must not do, cannot do, is to take up arms against each other. We cannot do this however negatively we feel.
"As it is we are a diverse people. Sephardic Jews feel downtrodden and they were right for a long time. No longer is that true. Some Ashkenazi Jews still feel superior even today, but this is fading now. We are a complicated nation, Jordan. We live among each other, the Orthodox, the religious, and the secular. Many are right-wing, many are liberal, but we are finally coming together as one people. What you speak of will lead to civil war, to the destruction of Israel as we know it. I do not want to know more of what you know but I can tell you this. A Jew who saves a life is as if he has saved the whole world. Sometimes we have to take lives to save the state and our world. Yes, it is against our religion and our inner beliefs, but we do it only in self-defense. It is saddening and regrettable, but it has been that way since our forefathers walked this land. We only do what we have to do. We may not be able to win on the world stage of public opinion, but we must save our homeland at all costs. While it saddens me deeply, it is still necessary to defend our way of life. It is against those that would take it away from us. It is just."
He paused, thought for a minute, and then looked over his glasses at Jordan. "I know that I may not have answered your questions directly with my words, my son. However, please reflect upon them and let them guide you in the future. I am glad that you have come to me, and I hope that I have been of help to you."
"Rabbi Carlebach, I thank you for your time. I believe that you have answered my concerns. You are a wise man, your words comforting and clear. Thank you again for your time." Jordan got up and shook the Rabbi’s hand. "I will see myself out. May you live a long and healthy life, Rabbi Carlebach. Hopefully we shall not meet this Sunday."
He could still hear the Rabbi laughing as he went out into the heat of the night. He glanced at his watch. The visit had taken longer than he expected. He got into the car and told Shalom to start driving. The Rabbi had answered him. Jordan knew what he had to do and was at peace with his decision. The burden had been taken from his shoulders. Thank God he had thought to go to the Rabbi for guidance.
Stephen W. Ayers Copyright-
Book 1 of the Jordan Kline Trilogy.
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