Terrorist attacks are not just another headline in the news, it is the shattering of people’s lives cut short, and it is the panic and chaos that rip through an area in their wake. Fear ripples through and takes up residence in the psyche of the people who live through it. For two weeks terrorists have targeted a series of brutal attacks in Israeli cities, and again just last night in a popular nightlife spot in Tel Aviv that claimed the lives of three young men.
Anxiety has overpowered people’s mindsets. Everyone walks down the street with caution, suspicion, alertness, and looks automatically for a place to escape if another terrorist motivated by Islamic fundamentalism strikes again. Every ambulance howl evokes thoughts of despair and concern.
As Israelis, there is no need to pretend like nothing is happening and act as if everything is normal. We all need to take care of ourselves and take care of each other and be vigilant. We also need to open our eyes to what is happening on a more internal level, and open our hearts to what Israel’s sages wrote: “The prime defense against calamity is love and unity. When there are love, unity, and friendship between each other in Israel, no calamity can come over them” (Maor vaShemesh – Light and Sun). Likewise, The Book of Consciousness writes, “We are commanded at each generation to strengthen the unity among us so our enemies do not rule over us.”
All of Israel is an amalgamation in which everyone is connected to each other, but we do not see it and certainly do not feel it. But the spiritual connection is direct: the connection of our hearts radiates favorably to the whole of society. Therefore, along with the phenomenon of terrorists who need to be uprooted, we must act with all our might to unite and be guarantors of each other.
Only if we can support each other wholeheartedly can we gain a sense of security on our streets. But as long as we prefer to live in our own bubble, caring only about our personal well-being, then this cold snowball of indifference forms between us, it rolls down a slope picking up more layers of coldness and alienation, and wraps each in an icy shroud that keeps us apart, until the next disaster forces us to briefly ward off peril.
Our Torah is all about love. It includes the greatest rule, “love your neighbor as yourself.” We must apply it in moments of peace, not just in times of terrorist attacks, but always because, like our ancient wisdom tells us, awakening to the love between us will awaken a supreme power, and it is He who will protect us from all evil.