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Held Hostage

by Dr. David Sanders

“Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”


These are the words James Ryan speaks while visiting the grave of Captain Miller in the film, Saving Private Ryan. Ryan’s two older brothers had already died serving the United States in their fight against the Nazis. The army assigns soldiers under the command of Captain Miller to find and secure the safe return of Private Ryan so that a mother will not have lost all three of her sons in one war. Most of the small platoon of men die, including Captain Miller. Their sacrifice is what Ryan feels he needs to earn back—to have done “enough” with his life.


The film’s story is fictional, but it shows the lengths to which some will go to sacrifice for another. To date, 444 Israeli soldiers have lost their lives since October 7. Many more will die above and below ground seeking those who are held hostage in Gaza. Among those hostages are many Private Ryans, members of families, even siblings, who were previously murdered.


Hamas is not only holding hostages they kidnapped on October 7. They have chosen to hold their fellow Palestinians hostage, chosen to hold peace hostage. This is also the case of those Israelis who have chosen to hold their fellow citizens (Jews and Arabs alike) hostage by holding peace hostage. We too are hostage to the continuing loss of life and the traumas that will haunt the survivors for a long time.


Peace? Hope? Freedom for those held hostage? It feels buried in a labyrinth of darkness. One thing we must know. One thing we must dedicate ourselves to. Feel the pain and suffering and do not succumb to despair.


Do not become a hostage to fear. Live your life the best you can with courage and compassion. We are all Private Ryans. We owe it to those whose lives and deaths pave a way to peace.


Learn more with Dr. Sanders at Kabbalah Experience this winter.


Judith Brodie · December 14, 2023 at 4:54 pm

Victor Frankl wrote that ““There was plenty of suffering for us to get through. Therefore, it was necessary to face up to the full amount of suffering, trying to keep moments of weakness and furtive tears to a minimum. But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.” I also appreciate from what you wrote, Dr. Sanders, that in the bearing of anguish, somehow we must not succumb to despair, because that is the debt we owe those making these terrible sacrifices. Thank you for your thoughts.

    David Sanders · December 15, 2023 at 8:28 am

    There is in this very moment those who have come before us, all those who have suffered and sacrificed who we owe deep gratitude. It would have been far easier for Frankl and many others to succumb to despair and not testify about the suffering they endured and witnessed. Thank you for the quote.

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