Rabbi, it is forbidden to kill. But Deborah called for a bloody battle, Jael
killed, Yehudit killed and she did it for Yisrael, and she did it with a
prayer on her lips: "All powerful Lord! Look now down at the deeds of my
hands for Yisrael's exaltation." And then she cut off Holoferne the Assyrian
's head while he slept, drunk, and brought it in a sack to Betyla and cried:
Open the gate, the Almighty is with us! And she showed them the bloody head.
She was praised and honored for it. Rabbi, was she guilty before the
The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was also valid for her.
Rabbi, the Almighty himself kills! When he led our fathers out of Egypt, he
created a ford through the sea for them. When the Egyptians followed he let
the flood kill them. Then a woman stood up, Miryam by name, Aharon's sister,
and she called all the women together and led them with kettledrums, and
they danced, and Miryam sang: "Sing to the Almighty, for he threw them all,
horse and rider, into the sea." Miryam sang for the enemies' death, she sang
the Almighty's act of murder.
Wouldn't you cry in triumph if the Romans were defeated?
I lowered my head.
He said: Be the other Miryam, the one who weeps over the death of every
other. Far is the path which Yisrael traveled, and still farther the one it
has yet to travel. It used violence and it suffered violence. It will use
violence and will atone terribly for it. Many will be killed, if they kill.
The survivors will be hunted down and scattered over the earth. You, Miryam,
will experience it. But the victors will not enjoy their victory either.
They also will be conquered and nothing will remain of their empire and
their power. No victory lasts, no war brings freedom.
But how shall Yisrael be free without fighting, Rabbi?
He wrapped his cloak tightly around him and walked away. When he returned
late that night he looked like someone who had fallen victim to robbers. He
What happened to you, Rabbi?
He didn't answer.
A few days later I found out what had happened.
Rabbi, I dared to say, you are suffering.
Yes, I am suffering.
You suffer in a special way. When you came back late recently you looked as
though you had been in a fight.
You saw rightly.
And who was your opponent?
One never has another opponent than one's self.
Explain that, please.
I dream hard dreams, Miryam. It is always the same dream. It's the one I
dreamed that time in the desert, after my long fast.
Tell it to me.
Frank Thomas Smith