Like many thousands of people, I was torn this week. Deep joy and deep sorrow mingled in my heart.
Joy and relief at the release of Gilad Shailt after over five years of captivity.
Sorrow and pain for the Israeli families who lost loved ones at the hands of terrorists who were released so that Gilat Shalit could go home.
One thousand and twenty seven criminals, some murderers, released in exchange for one scrawny young man with thick glasses and a crooked smile.
Redeeming the captive is a central law in Judaism. Why, of the 613 commandments in the Bible, is this one so important? Because it is an unfortunate truth that over the centuries, it has been needed far too often by the Jewish people.
Gilad Shalit’s parents worked tirelessly to ensure that he was not forgotten. They never gave up, and they never stopped loving him.
Which is why the plight of the other Israeli parents in the news this week is so poignant. They loved their children too, continue to love them.
It’s no surprise that they sued the Israeli supreme court to stop the prisoner swap. It’s not that they didn’t want Gilad Shalit to go home – they just didn’t want their children’s murderers to be released.
This is in dark contrast to another overseas court case this week.
In India, 220 girls petitioned the court to allow them to change their names. Why? Because their parents had named them “Unwanted.” Literally.
(Most of them chose the name of her favorite Bollywood star).
In bright contrast, my friends Wendy and Greg just traveled to China to adopt a long awaited daughter. You can be assured that she is very much wanted.
All of this made me want to run to Ithaca and Tampa to visit my daughters at college and hold them in my arms, stroke their hair, gaze into their smiling eyes, and go out for frivolously expensive cups of coffee.
As we celebrate Simchat Torah today — the day we finish reading the Torah and begin anew — I am reminded that parenthood is a cycle too, a swirling montage of events big and small, joyous and mournful. God created this world and set it spinning. We can only do the best we can, but we can’t abdicate the responsibility to do our best. As parents, it is the least we can do.