Would a stone by any other name, mean the same thing?

Photo by Rusty Stewart via Flickr

I was struck (no, not literally) by an image I recently came across on Flickr. It was of Palestinian men collecting rocks… well these were rocks on steroids, huge chunks of concrete, to hurl at Israeli soldiers and settlers who might wander down their streets.

It occurred to me when I saw this picture that we use rocks for very different purposes. These Palestinians use rocks to hurt and maim. Even in the broader Islamic culture, rocks are used to inflict pain and death. This punishment is usually used against women with little recourse in their society. I know that within Judaism there were some punishments that called for stoning, however, there has been no historically verified accounts of it every happening.

However, stones have a very important place in modern Judaism. We put them on the graves of our loved ones. It represents permanence, it shows a presence was there. We don’t put flowers, which die. We leave a permanent marker of our visit.

I don’t know what parallels or differences I draw from our very different usage of this same, simple item. I just found the dichotomy fascinating.

To cause death? To honor death?


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