It is 8pm. For the second day in a row I have sat fairly motionless, doing more or less nothing other than posting and reading Facebook, as I watch the hours pass by. I tell myself it is ok. Following such a horrific tragedy, how can one be expected to deal with the mundane reality of life? How can I be inspired to write when I have no words?
And then it struck me. This is their goal. Their mission. Their focus. If they can get me to stop. Get you to stop. Paralyze us from doing what we do…they win.
And so I write.
As callous as this sounds, unfortunately yesterday’s brutal massacre in Har Nof was nothing new. We can go through our history and find countless other incidents of innocent bloodshed. But this is about more than just murder. Clearly more than numbers. The question has been posed why guns weren’t used if they wanted to maximize the damage. But that is not their only goal. They do what they do to create fear, terror, and most importantly, doubt.
There is a well-known teaching that Amalek, the Biblical nation that seeks our destruction, is numerically equivalent to the word safek meaning doubt. Unlike our more intense emotions which pass or at least lessen with time, doubt is a constant. It lurks beneath the surface, showing its ugly face right as we are about to do something. It is subtle but oh so strong. And it is cancerous, for it spreads and metastasizes and ends up killing, organ by organ, project by project, everything it touches.
Doubt is what makes us wonder if it is safe to get on an airplane. Board a bus. Go to a restaurant. And now, enter a synagogue.
Just before writing this article, I found a video of the prayer service this morning at the Har Nof synagogue, the very site of yesterday’s terror attack. The blood had been cleaned up but the bullet holes remain. The place was packed. Today as well a brit milah, a circumcision took place in the very same place that four holy Jews breathed their last breaths just a day before. If they can be there, how much more so must the rest of us do, act, be.
Our enemies have tried. But they will never succeed. As long as we keep moving, growing, creating. As long as we refuse to forget who we are and we refuse to allow the world to forget who we are. We must stop apologizing and excusing and attempting to please those that will never accept us and those that refuse to make peace with us. Every time we lower ourselves to such demands we weaken our stance. Not only politically but spiritually. When we fail to be strong in our souls, our bodies have no chance.
Our enemies are unified in their hate. In their desire to destroy. To uproot. To kill. But our unity is so much greater. Our goal is light. Life. Fulfillment. Purpose. And as much as we mourn our loss, it must make us even stronger. Even more determined.
We need to stop waiting for the world to give us permission to live. Rather we need to do what must be done to maintain our present security while ensuring our future. We dispel darkness with light. We combat cruelty through kindness. We negate evil through holiness. And we fight death through life.
There is a great Mexican proverb that states: “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we are seeds.”
Until tonight, this was my mistake. I had forgotten that we are seeds. That even when thrown down, even when covered in dirt, we will sprout, we will grow, we will flourish.
Because that is what we do. That is who we are. And we are here to stay.