The case of Shamima Begum has been front page news for the last 24 hrs.
A young girl, radicalised in the UK who became a ‘Jihadi bride’, now after the defeat of ISIS – wants to return home to the UK.
The majority of the public and politicians have said that in no way should she be allowed back into the country. She has allied herself with an evil organisation and shows no remorse for her actions. Her entry back into the UK will be a potential security nightmare. As one writer put it; ‘She has betrayed the UK. She has allied herself with unspeakable evil. It’s quite simple: we don’t want people who think like her living among us. Such sympathy as we have belongs to Lucy Henning and her beloved father and to all the victims of Isil. Not to a girl who betrayed her country and chose a life of sleeping with the enemy.’
However, there are those who feel that we should allow her to return. One of those, still appalled and disgusted by her actions wrote a piece in the Times that argued that despite everything she should be allowed back into the UK and remain a citizen of Britain. ‘She should be offered the counsel of the various rehabilitations programmes sponsored by the government and her child should be given the best the NHS can provide. He ends with her quote ‘That’s all I want right now, I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child’ he then adds ‘The privilege of living quietly is precisely what the rule of law protects, as it should in this most testing of cases’.
She wants to come home – but should she be allowed to?
Maybe, maybe our heart goes out to her unborn child, or her potential rehabilitation and ‘teshuva’ – but can we take the risk? The horrific attacks in Paris in 2015 and those that followed Brussels both involved people who had returned from Syria. She retains her poisonous ideology, we cannot simply open our hearts and our country to her – there are ramifications for the actions she has taken – that is how justice works in the world. We have to take many areas into consideration.
This is the difference between us and Hashem.
When someone commits a crime, we cannot ignore it, we cannot just forgive it – we have to punish it and take steps to guarantee the safety of society from the criminal if need be.
However, when we break one of the mitzvot ben adam l makom – between us and Hashem, yes, it is not ignored, it is recorded and it is not automatically forgiven. However if we ‘long to return home’ to Hashem then we are welcomed back with open arms. It is hard to fathom how Hashem can wipe the slate clean – but that is the power of teshuva between us and Hashem but ben adam l’chavero – between each other, it is not so simple.
Hashem is different, yes there is Divine justice but however far we have drifted – we can return. Hashem’s door is always open, because that is what He desires most from us – it is what He is ultimately waiting for.
Tetzaveh is a curious parsha, no mention of Moshe and an entire chapter and 43 pesukim about clothes. Not just any clothes but the clothes of the Kohanim and the Kohen Gadol. We are told that ‘clothes maketh the man’ but in Torah terms, clothes actually betray the man.
The whole idea of having to wear clothes comes from Adam and Chavah eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. ‘Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.’ Bereishit 3:7.
Before the Chet, they felt no need to be clothed. Clothes therefore remind of us of the original ‘rebellion’ against Hashem and our lives are in essence a mission to return to Eden, to an innocent, pure, spiritual, Godly existence. It is therefore no coincidence that the word for clothes is ‘Begadim’, which have the same letters as ‘Bogdim’ which means traitors or rebels.
When a Jihadi bride wants to ‘return home’ we are not united in fulfilling that request, she has been a traitor to her country then coming home may never be an option.
When a Jew wishes to ‘return home’ they will be embraced by our Father, they may have rebelled, they may have lived a life devoid of Kedusha and Torah – but they decide they wish to return – to do teshuva then coming home is always an option.
Hashivenu Hashem Elecha, v nashuva, Chadesh Yameinu K kedem.
Bring us back to You Hashem and we shall return, renew our days as of old.