We’re surrounded by the death of innocents. Orlando. Nice. Dallas. Tel Aviv. Innocents dead at the hand of terror. Innocents dead at the hand of gun violence. Innocents dead at the hand of complacency and silence.
In Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France, a priest was murdered in his church, a religious man doing holy work. Hostages were taken. His throat was slit. His name was Fr. Jacques Hamel. He was 84-years-old.
Fr. Hamel’s death made world news in an instant. It faded from world news just as fast. There had been so many other terror attacks in the past few weeks. Larger attacks. More than one dead. Nothing too dramatic compared with multiple bombings in Iraq, not that important when there was other news, like the U.S. Presidential elections.
The list of terror attacks maintained on Wikipedia is astounding. Hundreds dead each month all over the world. One and one and one.
The TalmudThe rabbinic compendium of lore and legend composed between 200 and 500 CE. Study of the Talmud is the focus of rabbinic scholarship. The Talmud has two versions, the main Babylonian version (Bavli) and the smaller Jerusalem version (Yerushalmi). It is written in Rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic. tells us that saving a life is the equivalent of saving the world; taking a life is the equivalent of destroying the world. In Orlando, 49 dead. As a friend said, 49 is 49 ones, 49 worlds, 49 people. One and one and one. One is everything.
One is Everything: A Meditation on Numbers and Terror
Orlando. 16 June 2016. 49 souls
Kabul. 23 July 2016. 80 souls
Nice. 14 July 2016. 84 souls
Baghdad. 3 July 2016. 325+ souls
Dallas. 7 July 2016. 5 souls
Tel Aviv. 3 July 2016. 4 souls
Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray. 26 July 2016. 1 soul
One soul. A priest, in a church.
Just one soul and the world moves on.
We are shocked by the scale of terror.
The 49 and the 84 and the 325
With a plus sign next to it because, well,
It’s just tough to getA writ of divorce. Traditionally, only a man can grant his wife a get. Liberal Jews have amended this tradition, making divorce more egalitarian. an accurate count
In so much death.
One is everything.
Each one, a human.
Each one, a life.
One is enough to cry out to heaven.
When we count the scope of terror,
The range of death,
The injured and the wounded,
The witnesses and the bystanders,
The first responders and the families.
One is 100 witnesses.
One is 1,000 mourners.
One is 10,000 traumas.
One is a soul G-d sent to this earth.
One is everything.
A priest doing holy work.
A boy studying TorahThe Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general..
A girl sleeping in her bed.
One soul. One heartbeat.
One more, too soon.
God of Consolation,
Every soul is Yours,
A world, unique and holy.
Let Your peace reign quickly among us.
Let violence, hatred and terror vanish.
Let Your comfort descend from heaven,
And let the righteous rest in peace.
Alden Solovy is a Jerusalem-based journalist, poet, liturgist, and teacher whose prayers have been used by people of all faiths around the world. A three-time winner of the Chicago Headline Club’s Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism and author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and Healing, his nearly 600 new prayers appear in multiple anthologies, prayer books, and websites. His work can be found at ToBendLight. He can be reached at email@example.com.