Dovid Vigler

How Moses handled anti-Semitism

Image by Eric Gaba (Sting - fr:Sting) and NordNordWeston on Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0):

Israel just ranked as one of the most powerful countries in the world!

There has been an alarming increase in anti-Semitic activity in both West Palm Beach as well as Boca Raton. While anti-Semitism is never OK, this time it’s a little too close to home. When provoked, our natural reaction is to recoil with fear—this is actually the worst possible reaction. History has taught us that if we can muster the courage to overcome fear, we will reap the rewards that we so desperately seek.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.– Nelson Mandela

When Moses saved the life of a Jew by killing his Egyptian abuser, the Torah tells us that “Moses was afraid…and Pharaoh sought to kill him. (Exodus 2:14–15)” Shouldn’t it be written the other way around? Because Pharaoh sought to kill him, therefore Moses was afraid?!

But no. Only because Moses experienced fear was Pharaoh empowered to seek his blood. Were it not for his fear, no harm could ever have befallen him. The deep spiritual truth we see here is that what happens to us mirrors what’s happening inside of us. When we are confident and joyous, G-d sends us celebrations; when we are brittle and bitter, He shakes our foundations.

On the flip side, when Moses faced what was perhaps the toughest moment of his life—leading the Jewish nation out of Egypt as they were trapped between the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind them—he instructed the nation to “Be fearless!” (Exodus 14:13) This powerful inner transformation of their emotions quickly manifested as the splitting of the Red Sea before them leading to their miraculous escape from slavery and to the freedom that we all cherish and celebrate to this very day.

In hindsight, the miraculous odyssey from Egypt was the result of the inner transformation of the hearts of the Jewish People from fear to faith. As below, so above—as soon as we overcome the slavery mentality within ourselves, we were ready to experience freedom on the outside too!

Banish any thought of fear that may be lurking in your mind. To dwell on such a thought even for a moment is to surrender yourself into the hands of your inner Pharaoh, that he may destroy you. To embrace your faith and experience serenity is to surrender to G-d Almighty and to summon His blessings upon you!

Replace such thoughts immediately with healthy thoughts, positive thoughts, thoughts that lift you up. Think good thoughts and your thoughts will allow good things to happen. Trust is the inverse of fear. Hold on tightly with trust of steel and nothing in this world can harm you.

There is no word in Hebrew for “history” because we believe that the lessons of the past are the fuel of the present. If the Egyptian Exodus was merely historical, we wouldn’t obsess over it as much as we do. Far from archival, the Exodus is psychological—it is a battle that each and every one of us must battle, even today, as we are tested with problems—heaven-sent—to equip us with the tools to experience true happiness and freedom.

It’s no surprise therefore that the most frequently repeated directive in the entire Torah is ‘Al Tira’– ‘Do not fear’. More than one hundred and ten times, the Torah instructs us not to be afraid!

If that’s not enough, it is the opening words with which we usher in the chaos of a new week on Saturday evening at the close of Shabbos– ‘Hinei Kel Yshuasi evtach velo efchad (Behold, the G-d of my salvation in whom I trust, And I have no fear).’

They are also the very last words we recite before leaving the safety of the sanctuary and entering into the world outside three times a day at the conclusion of our daily prayers. We say, “Al Tirah,” to remind us that, if nothing else, in the world we are about to enter we should never ever be afraid!

The profound emphasis on fearlessness reminds us over and over again that the primary reason for which we were placed upon this earth is to be tested. Instead of our knee-jerk reaction which would normally be fear, we are called upon to reach higher consciousness—where faith trumps fear and serenity reigns supreme.

It’s not a question of if things will be rough. It’s only a question of when. And when that happens, the challenge is how we will react. As harmless as it sounds, our internal emotional response is ground zero of the battleground. Our faith empowers G-d to bless us; our fear empowers our problem to oppress us. Our destiny is truly in our hearts.

Since the beginning of time, G-d has been telling us not to fear; the question is whether or not we’ve been listening!

Now, this is easier said than done—it’s easy to say that you’re not afraid, it’s a whole different story to experience it. The litmus test is what makes you lose your cool—if you get angry with anti-Semites, you’ve betrayed your conviction that they have power over you. If you can stay calm and composed, you’ve indicated that you don’t ascribe any power to them because you know that you are in the hands of G-d Almighty exclusively.

Of course, we have to take decisive action against anti-Semites using every channel of diplomacy and self-defense available to us. Moses was anything but passive as he spoke truth to power and courageously defended his People from oppression. What Moses teaches us is not only what to do, but more importantly, how to do it. When we confront anti-Semites, we do so serenely, fearlessly and filled with faith, fully aware that they have no true power over us.

Warren Buffett and Richard Branson both had to overcome their crippling stage fright in their twenties before they became billionaires. Bruce Willis and Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) needed to conquer their speech impediments before seeing great success. Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson all had to bury their fears of public speaking before becoming giants. Indeed, Jack Canfield wrote that “everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

After nearly two thousand years of persecution that led to insecurity, modern Jews today are learning how to be fearless. The founders of the Modern State of Israel fought fearlessly like their lives depended on it and when they did so, they experienced success beyond their wildest dreams and imaginations! When we are fearless, we are most powerful—no one can stop us!

A you’ve-got-to-see-it-to-believe-it report that was produced by US News and World Report this year in which Israel was declared to be the 10th most powerful country on Earth, behind giants like the USA, China, Russia, France, and Germany! That would mean, that per capita, the tiny population of Jews in Israel are the most powerful people in the world!
See the full report, by clicking here:

The recent local anti-Semitic events are a test from G-d. Let’s show Him that, like Moses and the ancient Israelites, we are no longer living with a slave mentality. Let’s lead from the front as we proudly declare that we have learned the lessons of our history and we are ready to be free. Who we were yesterday is not who we are today. Let’s show Him that we’ve graduated from this lesson—it’s about time!

Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens

6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 | 561.624.2223

Instagram @JewishGardens

About the Author
Raised in South Africa, Rabbi Dovid Vigler is the founder and spiritual leader of Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens in Florida. As a gifted orator and creative thinker, he strives to share the beauty and depth of Jewish Mysticism in a clear, conversational and down-to-earth manner. Whether in his popular in-person and written sermons or in his thought provoking Torah classes on social media, he raises his students to new heights by transforming ancient pearls of wisdom into modern solutions to timeless quandaries His weekly Radio Show—The Schmooze—was internationally broadcast on six stations, reaching nearly one hundred thousand listeners weekly for almost a decade. His most recent book, “If G-d is Good, Why Can Life Be So Bad?” is renowned for its unprecedented approach to making timeless Jewish mysticism understandable and relatable even to most uninitiated readers. It is available on Amazon. His inspirational books, seminars, essays and uplifting messages can be found on Follow his daily teachings at
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