Recently an Ayeka participant expressed outrage over the world’s reaction and media coverage to the horrors of October 7th.
He lamented: “How can the world so easily ignore, forgive or condone what Hamas did to us on October 7?? It is utterly bewildering and breaks my heart. It infuriates me. I want to scream to the world, ‘Have you gone completely mad?’ I want to change the entire world’s opinion of us and our situation. What can I do to fight this madness, to stop it and eliminate it”.
In addition to absorbing and mourning the horror and brutality of October 7th, the dread for the hostages, and the escalating episodes of world-wide antisemitism, we find ourselves drowning in global and local anti-Israel and anti-Jewish messages. We are suffering from a moral inversion and blindness to the plight of our people and our need to defend ourselves.
The headlines make us feel powerless. What should we do with our exasperation? What could guide our response?
Over 100 years ago, Rav Kook addressed this exact frustration:
A person should focus on what he/she is actually able to fix and not neglect that for a moment.
And whatever is beyond one’s ability to change, one should not incessantly ‘knock one’s head against the wall’ to try to change it. Rather, stifle this heartache and concentrate on whatever one can actually do to help the situation. (Shemoneh Kvatzim 3:360)
Often, I find myself drained and anxious. I have dented countless walls with my head. It is a struggle to get out of bed in the morning and face what our world has become.
The wisdom of Rav Kook helps. It reminds me to focus not on what I cannot do, but on whatever I can do. It inspires me to clarify whatever concrete steps I can take. How can I reach out and help someone; who needs me now? Family? Friends? Jewish community? Physical acts? Tzedaka? We have no idea how far the vibrations of even small acts of kindness can reverberate in the universe.
I continually remind myself and my kids that the only thing in life we are in control of is our attitude.
Contrary to what we may often feel, we, you and I, are not powerless. We can control our attitude. We can redirect our disappointment, anger, and rage to deepen our determination to do acts which have an impact. Becoming exasperated with world opinion only depletes us. We need to let it go (or at least contain it) and focus on what we can control. In our limited circles of power, there is still a lot we can do.
We need to let go of what we cannot control and continue to focus on whatever we can do – to bring light and healing and hope to ourselves individually and to the Jewish People and world as a whole.
(Inspired by David Kahn)