I am a coward. When I read the stories about grandmothers bravely fighting off terrorists, or Holocaust stories of people enduring death marches, barefoot in the freezing cold, I know that I am not made of that stuff. The events in Israel are unprecedented and require some commentary, at least for those who read my blog and allow me the vanity of thinking my ideas have value and, for whatever reason, draw inspiration from them.
In our religion, symbolism is not merely metaphor; it is actually taking a molecule of the whole. Because all is created by God and is a part of God, everything is interrelated in a meaningful way. When we dip the apple in the honey on Rosh Hashanah, we are not just praying for a sweet new year, but somehow theurgically helping to sweeten the year. In mystical terms, being Mamtik es Hadin “sweetening” the harshness of divine justice and retribution.
As regular citizens, how can we fight the forces of evil and terrorism? We have to combat anything that symbolically represents evil in our own lives. There are forms of everyday domestic terrorism that occur, and I will name three of them:
- Invoking fear and intimidation in our loved ones. What Chazal warned against, מטיל אימה יתירה בתוך ביתו (Gittin 6b).
- By creating conditions of disharmony in our homes, we allow the forces of evil to become dominant. (See Rashi Devarim 33:5).
- Terrorists kidnap people, but emotional bullies kidnap souls. Have we suppressed or stolen the sense of individuality and emotional respect from members of our family? How have we prevented our loved ones from being their full selves?
Many of us cannot be warriors in a physical sense; but our Sages teach (Avos 4:1):
אֵיזֶהוּ גִבּוֹר, הַכּוֹבֵשׁ אֶת יִצְרו
Who is a mighty warrior? He who subdues his evil inclination.
Let’s win the war on all fronts.