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You will not defeat me

פיגוע בבני ברק

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Following the third deadly terrorist attack in a week in Israel, it may be difficult to get up and face the day without an overwhelmingly sad and burdensome feeling. The way to overcome this feeling is found in one of Naomi Shemer's most poignant songs: "You will not defeat me." According to the title, you might expect a soldiers' song, yet Naomi, a leading Israeli songwriter, wrote that a nation's road to victory is simply a matter of many people getting up in the morning to carry out their mission - to study, to build, to create:

*"From my window I see a street like a rising river
And people going off to their day's work
And children who learn Torah with school bags on their backs
And in their hands several blossoming myrtle branches.
Suddenly everything becomes clear and I say:
You will not defeat me,
I am not defeated so quickly."*

What does someone who gets up to go to work and a child who goes to school have to do with victory? This song recalls a discussion that appears in our sources around the question: What is the most important verse in the Torah?

One sage suggested: "Shema Yisrael." Another sage said: "You shall love your fellow as yourself." But the verse chosen was: "You shall offer one lamb in the morning and the other lamb at twilight." This is the verse that describes the Tamid sacrifice in the Holy Temple: one every morning and one every evening, two each day, every day. The persistence, the consistent daily activity that is ostensibly routine is, in fact, a perpetuation of life that comes from faith in doing what is right in the proper way - this is the secret of victory.

This is also precisely what our enemies wish to interrupt. Therefore, every action that affirms life, that builds, every creative effort and every mitzvah that we fulfill this morning - is the answer to those who would destroy us. They will not defeat us so quickly.


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