Today is a historic day. Captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit is finally coming home to his family. In davening we call the holiday of Sukkot "the time of our happiness" and this will surely be a happy Sukkot for his family. While his family is certainly celebrating, others have some concerns.
Israel will be freeing over 1,000 terrorists in exchange for just one soldier. Some of these terrorists were sentenced for committing unspeakable atrocities against women and children, some even for mass murder. Although the deal will require some 200 freed terrorists to be expelled from Gaza, the large remainder will be able to stay and many have expressed that they are unrepentant and will go right back to terrorism against Israelis.
People are also concerned that this will encourage Hamas to capture more soldiers because they know that the price is so high. One soldier releases a thousand prisoners.
This has become Israel's policy. Israel will pay exorbitant ransoms and submit to extortion by terrorists.
Despite the joy that the Shalit family will be experiencing, I believe that overall this is a sad occasion. It is a victory to terrorism everywhere.
However, in an effort to find some positive aspect of this episode in history - by engaging in this trade Israel has made a statement that no price is too high for the life of one Jew. On the flip side, Hamas has made a pretty bold statement to their people and to the world. They say that one Jew is worth 1,000 times any of their people.
Think about that for one second. When a Hamas official sees a Jew walking down the street that Jew is worth more than the lives of 1,000 of their own people!
The Arabs in Gaza have been told by their leaders to celebrate today, but if they stopped to think about it, the average Arab suffered a huge blow to their morale today. They were told they are worth less than 1/1000th of a Jew. It is indeed a sad day to be an Arab.
On the other hand, it is a great day to be a Jew! Why are we valued so high? Because of the great love that exists among the Jewish people. Sure, we seem to argue all the time, but when the chips are down we stand up for each other. We support each other. We make it known to each other that if any one of us is in pain then the rest of us will go to the ends of the earth to help you.
While I disagree with the methods employed in freeing Gilad Shalit, I certainly applaud the sentiment. God bless Gilad Shalit and his family. God bless Israel and God bless the Jewish people.