A friend called me hysterically this morning when she couldn’t reach her 21 year old daughter after the horrible news of more attacks throughout the country.
She was terrified, shaking and crying. “How can we go on like this?”, she cried. “I’m terrified! If we don’t learn from our past how will we have a future? We have our own state, how are we being slaughtered in it????”
Her daughter called a few minutes later to say she was safe and sound. Baruch Hashem.
But many others are not safe and sound. They have been stabbed and shot and run down. Injured and bleeding and fighting for their lives. And dead.
So, no, we can’t go on like this. And yes, we can learn from our past.
We are an injured people. We are like a person with a leg that has been broken and not yet set. We are in pain and we can barely move, let alone run.
But it’s a mistake to think that what’s broken is a lack of peace. Our injury is our inability to live as one Jewish nation in unity under God. Not having peace is just the symptom.
But at the same time we have wild animals at our door, roaring and trying to claw their way in. So we must barricade the door. If they break through we must shoot them dead. We must seal up every Arab neighborhood in the country. Seal up the Gaza strip. Reinforce the walls. We have an obligation to protect the precious life The Almighty gave us.
But that’s not where our obligation ends. That’s where it begins.
The Almighty has chosen us to represent Him in this world. He gave us the how -The Torah as a guidebook. And the where -The Land of Israel. He’s watching us and we all know the world is watching too.
Let the world see the many ordinary citizens who have come to the aid of Jews being attacked the last few weeks. A taxi driver running down a knife wielding terrorist with his taxi. An armed bystander shooting dead a terrorist driving his car into a crowded bus stop. A young man holding down a female terrorist caught with a knife. These brave people fulfilled two mitzvahs. “Saving someone who is being pursued even by taking the life of the pursuer”,(Deut.25:12) and “Not to stand idly by if someone’s life is in danger”, (Lev. 19:16). I thank them with my full heart for being a Kiddush Hashem. I would hope to act in as brave a manner if God forbid I was ever in their position.
Barring extraordinary acts of heroism, how can I fulfill my obligation?
“One must sanctify God’s Name”, (Lev. 22:32) and “Emulate His ways”, (Deut. 28:9)
I’ll try to act in a way that will make God proud. And if I’m unsure of what that is, I’ll ask someone who studies The Torah and has internalized the wisdom found within it. I won’t be discouraged if I can’t find someone easily. I’ll just keep looking.
“To love Jews”, (Lev. 19:17)
I’ll look for and appreciate the struggles people may have faced and the good deeds that they do (and tell them), and make sure to greet everyone with a smile.
“Not to hate fellow Jews”, (Lev. 19:17)
I’ll try to remember that we are family and if I hurt you, I hurt all of us. I’ll try to be patient and judge everyone favorably.
It’s no mistake that when a young solder is inducted into the army he is given a gun and a Tanach. Protect the physical life. Guard the spiritual life.
We desperately need to build bridges between each other. Along with the guns, is our defense against our enemies.
Yearn for unity, peace will follow.