Many years ago, a dear friend and congregant, a strongly religious and observant Jew, who was a Holocaust survivor told me: “Of course my faith was challenged , of course I have many unanswerable questions, but emerging from the camps I knew one thing: The greatest evil the world had ever seen devoted itself above all else to the annihilation of the Jewish people and therefore Judaism. If the greatest evil the world had ever seen sought to destroy Judaism then Judaism must be the greatest good the world has ever seen”. Hence, his lifelong intense devotion to Judaism and its observance.
So too, today: Much has happened in the last month. Foremost in our minds are the attacks by Hamas and other Arab terrorist groups upon our brothers and sisters in Israel. This was followed by a recently unprecedented degree of Anti-Jewish rhetoric and physical attacks in the USA, the UK, Belgium, and many more places. In truth, though we have been through worse and G-d willing will get through this.
I see, however, important moral clarity gained from all these unfortunate events. To whit, the hatred of Israel is the hatred of all Jews everywhere. Hamas and its ilk desire there be no Jews G-d forbid in Israel or frankly anywhere in the world. The attacks upon Jews everywhere physically, verbally and in social media demonstrate that none of this is about the so-called “occupation” – it is about the age-old desire to eliminate the Jewish people and their message from the world. However, G-d put us here for a reason, and despite grievous wounds we are still here and will with G-d’s help always be here.
We all are deeply distressed by the loss of lives, especially those of children on the Arab side. As Jews we treasure every human life. Therefore, let us look at the utter cruelty and disregard for life -even Arab life- displayed by the terrorists.
Look at the profound anti-Semitism of them and their supporters. Look at the murder, callousness and cruelty of all these terrorist movements world-wide. Look at Israel’s efforts to protect their own and even the lives of many who hate us in Gaza and elsewhere -look at her efforts to minimize the death of those not actively involved in wanton attempts to murder the innocent. Evil seeks to destroy good, and the treasure of goodness preserved by our people through everything is the heritage and hope of humanity.
So, let me share some things we can do -there is a “soul” and a “body” to this
The ‘Soul”: Let us redouble our engagement in Judaism.
Let us study more Torah that we know what treasures we possess.
Let us remind ourselves that G-d brings success to our efforts – and increase the intensity and involvement in Tefilah – not just prayer but the bonding with a very real G-d who challenges us to seek and discover it.
Let us increase our involvement in Mitzvot and in particular, Tzedakah -especially for the needs of our family in the Land of Israel.
The “Body”: In conjunction with these spiritual efforts let us also build the real world vessels for thar energy. Speak up -to political leaders, to each other, in person and on social media on behalf of the Israel and the Jewish people. Speak out against the false narrative of the victimhood of those who embrace mayhem and murder.
As our prophet Isaiah (5:20) said so many years ago -but so applicable to today:
כ הוֹי הָאֹמְרִים לָרַע טוֹב, וְלַטּוֹב רָע: שָׂמִים חֹשֶׁךְ לְאוֹר וְאוֹר לְחֹשֶׁךְ, שָׂמִים מַר לְמָתוֹק וּמָתוֹק לְמָר. 20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness; that change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! The murderers are the victims? Those who seek the genocidal annihilation of our presence in our land given to us by G-d are somehow on the side of justice? They are crueler to their fellows than Israel is to its actual enemies!
Call out clearly on every platform you have that the Land of Israel belonging to the Jewish people is an intrinsic, key, element of Judaism and asking a Jew to give that up or deny it is to ask a Jew to repudiate Judaism as a whole!
But light drives away dark, not a broom. Let us focus on the wonderful gift Judaism is and let us share its universal values as embodied in the Noahide Laws with all. There are so many moral and ethical challenges out there that Judaism has a clear view on -and these are the universal values contained in the torah for the benefit of all humanity. Study them, and share them.
I do not doubt that over time -if we remain strong in what is right even our bitterest enemies will see the folly of their ways benefit of the universal aspects of the Torah that leaves room for every human to attain all possible good.
I know we feel deeply about these issues, if anyone would like to discuss them, my physical and virtual doors are always open to hearing from, and dialoguing with, each and every one of you
Also, we had a wonderful Shavuot, with more people in our Shul than I have seen for a long time. We saw a good number of Thank G-d children, also. We continue to make bespoke tutoring available to any Jewish child needing it -please contact us if you know of any who might benefit.
Most of all us extend our wishes for good health, continued growth in all good things to each one of you
בברכה / With blessing,
Shlomo and Chana Yaffe
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