Uriel Vigler

5 Lessons We Can Learn From the Protesters

The past couple of weeks have been rough for us Jews. Seeing the vile and hateful rhetoric coming out of the protests at college campuses across the country is like watching a horror film. All those stories of ancient pogroms and Jews being beaten in the streets, all the stories we heard from our grandparents and great grandparents… it’s coming to life before our very eyes, unfolding with such rapidity we want to stare openmouthed and look away in terror all at the same time.

A beast has been unleashed and is spreading its venomous tentacles all over social media, college campuses, high schools, businesses, sports, etc. And all of this is taking place in America—the place we fled to for safety. A place that was supposed to harbor and protect us. And now, Antisemitism unlike anything we’ve seen since the Holocaust is spreading its wings right here in our place of refuge.

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything we see in life can teach us a lesson in our service of G-d—even these protestors! Here are some lessons I’ve found.

Someone in shul asked me the other day, “Why do they hate us?” But the only correct answer is that there is no rationale. Their hatred makes no sense. To counter this, we need to perform acts of love even if they make no sense. Don’t understand why you should keep Shabbat? Keep it anyway. Keeping kosher makes no sense to you? Embrace it anyway. That’s the call of the hour.

Their hatred runs deep and wide, its tentacles spreading across the globe, siding with bloodthirsty Hamas terrorists and ferrying that hatred throughout the world. The only thing we can do to counter this, is to spread love deeper and further than they can spread hatred. Help whoever you can whenever you can. Reach out to your fellow Jews. Love, love, love.

They have set up tent encampments, meaning they are protesting around the clock, day and night. To counter this, we need to ensure that our Judaism is alive and recognizable day and night. This means starting the day with Modeh Ani and washing our hands, and going to sleep by covering our eyes and reciting Judaism’s central tenet—the Shema.

Look at their passion! We need even more passion in our service of G-d and our fellow Jews. Bring your children to shul. Bring your neighbors to shul. Bring everyone you know! Study with passion. Give charity with passion. Host Shabbat meals with passion! Don’t be lukewarm about your Judaism.

They don’t want Jews on campus. They’ve physically barred them from entering and studying. Fortunately, we don’t need them for our studies. Come to shul or a Torah class and study with me. Visit and access the full gamut of studies for whatever interest or level of intensity calls your name. Sign up to and study like you have never studied before.

The nation of Israel is compared to a slumbering lion. Well, that lion has been jarringly awakened by the nightmare unfolding before us. But lions are powerful! Let’s unleash that power with a great roar, and go out and do good in the world.

Our sages teach us that the power of light is infinitely more powerful than the power of darkness.

Look what the protestors have done with the power of darkness. Can you even imagine what we can accomplish with a little bit of love? Jump in and let’s find out!

About the Author
Zimbabwean-born Rabbi Uriel Vigler has been directing the Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side of Manhattan together with his wife Shevy since 2005. In addition, he founded Belev Echad which helps wounded IDF soldiers. He has a weekly blog on current events. He is the proud father of eight children (including triplets) and leads a very young, vibrant and dynamic community.
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