When I first learned of the vicious murders of Rabbis Kupinsky, Goldberg, Levine, Twersky, by Palestinian terrorists, I was in Washington, DC in the midst of an AIPAC summit teaching high school students how to be successful advocates for Israel.
Throughout the day, blood and despair filled the newsfeeds of my Facebook and Twitter along with the pages of virtually every media site — the bloody floor of the synagogue, bloody prayer shawls and holy books, bloody limbs. These images evoked within me something that can only be described as deeply primal, angry, and afraid. Certainly not pleasant or hopeful.
We are all outraged, horrified, traumatized by this senseless brutality. Our first reaction is often primitive and motivated by anger – “look what these monsters have done! Look at the havoc they have caused!”
But on the other side, Hamas and other terrorist groups are showing the exact same thing, the exact same photos – “Look! Look at the blood, the carnage! Look at the havoc and pain we have caused!”
Enough, I say. The message of Israel is not one of death, of defeat – it is one of life, of hope, of love. Our pious men, murdered by terrorists while praying prayers of peace, should be remembered for far more than their bloody extended hands, the stories of their lives overshadowed by the vicious acts of terror by those who murdered them in cold blood.
Our Torah teaches us that “when the blood of our brother’s is being shed, we must not stand idly by.” We are obligated to act and to demand justice, but we must do so in a way that reflects our values of peace, of love, of life.
Acts of terror are never apolitical, but our job is not to make them even less so. We need to pull together. Now is not the time for policy debates. We must not fall into the trap of dividing ourselves from within.
My brothers and sisters, think of the consequences of your actions! Why do you shout into the wind, calling for justice from those who do not seek it? Why do you seek to change the minds of those who wish your annihilation?
In the wise words of FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself; nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
The response to senseless attacks of terror against our Jewish community is NOT to succumb to fear; heaven forbid! It is to live powerfully and fully as Jews!
Do not let them win; do not choose blood and carnage as the victors in this fight. Do not celebrate anger and vitriol. Do not stymie the advance of our great people by screaming at the gates of our enemies on their terms.
Pray. Sing. Shout from the rooftops. Flex your freedom muscles. Embrace one another. Celebrate life!
When we talk of only blood, those who seek our destruction have already won. We must make the message not one of death, but of life.