Bible Commentator

Special Stories

Rabbi Moshe Reiss

Special Stories #3: August 1, 2005  - The Disengagement - Part I - The  Settlers

From the fictional (?) story "Disengagement," by Noa Ariel:

"Grandpa." He clears his throat again. "You have to be evacuated. This is a government decision. You understand, this is very hard for me."

"If it's hard for you, then leave," says the old man.

"I'm asking you, I don't want to do this by force," he says.

"So leave, leave here."

"I have no choice. This an order I have received from our army."

"With Hitler there were also orders," the old man fires back.

"Enough, Zelig, enough," she says and her tears continue to fall, but he is determined: "There are orders that it is forbidden to obey. Even gentiles. And you are a Jew, aren't you?"

He is silent. He is prepared for words like these, he knows that this will come and he is prepared. The old man continues: "They've already expelled me once. True, they weren't nice like you are, and they didn't intend for me to get out of it alive, but an expulsion is an expulsion and you are expelling me. Not evacuating, expelling. From my home."

Now the old man is already on his feet, boiling with anger; the artery on the right side of his neck is protruding, protruding and very dark. "Enough, Zelig, enough," says the old woman. "You aren't healthy." The tears are falling now ceaselessly and she turns to the silent soldiers who are leaning against the wall, as though trying to minimize themselves, and hisses "Leave here ...!"

Mushon, who is in fact an outstanding rookie who knows that officers' course waits for only those who do not refuse, says: "I'm leaving," turns around and goes out. He (the commander) is left with only two soldiers.

He has no alternative; Zelig is an old man, he will simply hug him strongly out. He goes up to him and hugs him. Zelig is crying now, aloud, moaning. This is breaking his heart, but it is a sign that the old man has broken and he has won. He tries to steer him toward the door, but Zelig resists ... In that second of inattention, Zelig manages to free himself from his arm and break loose. From the strength of the thrust, the old man stumbles, falls on the corner of the table and his lip splits open and starts to bleed.

Blood, a lot of blood is flowing there. Too much. The old woman starts to scream, in Yiddish, and he tries to get Zelig out. His uniform is getting stained and he says to himself, "It's just a hurt lip. I know that a lot of blood is flowing, but it's just a hurt lip." There are drops of blood on the floor, and on his glasses and on his hands, but Zelig is outside. (From Haaretz, July 1)