Rabbi Manis Friedman
You must all know Rabbi Manis Friedman, lecturer, author and founding member of Beit Chana Institute in Minnesota, where girls from all over the world would come to learn what life is really all about. That was their foundation from which to build a strong Torah life, get married and raise a family.
So where do I come into the picture? Simple, Rabbi Feller, who together with his wife Mindy, were the other Beis Chana founding members, On my journey to become Shomer Shabbat I would often travel from my parents’ home across the Mississippi River to Lubavitch House in St. Paul on Friday afternoons as guests of the Chabad Community.
In those years, Chabad was just making a name for itself in Minnesota, and Beis Chana was in its infancy. I would many times be invited to spend Shabbat at the home of various families as well as in Lubavitch House which is the same venue that Beit Chana would hold all of its classes. Of course, when I went to spend Shabbat there during the time Beit Chana was in session, it was forbidden for me to set foot in Lubavitch House as I was informed by Rabbi Feller.
However, when Lubavtich House was free, that is when I would stay there. I wrote a Blog a while back about a young woman who came to Beit Chana to learn in Lubavitch House from overseas. While she was waiting for someone to greet her, suddenly Bob Dylan appears in the hallway. From that meeting, it gave her a sense of comfort to know that if Bob Dylan thought that Lubavitch House was such a great place to learn, then it would be good enough for her as well.
It turns out Bob Dylan would have a regular study session with Rabbi Friedman who, as I understand it, was also in the building at the time. When I came for Shabbat and stayed at Lubavitch House, no, I did not meet Bob Dylan. But I saw Rabbi Friedman many times when he was just making a name for himself. He would speak during lunch, or on Friday night, and I would get a good idea of what being Jewish and life was all about. And an idea Rabbi Friedman recently said concerning life is very important, which I want to share with you in this Blog. But first, I want to bring in my encounter with Arnold Roth.
In a lead article which appeared in TOI on Tuesday, the following headline first appeared-
Arnold Roth is Malki’s father.
Malki was among those killed in the Sbarro pizzeria terrorist attack on August 9, 2001, which took place at the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road in downtown Jerusalem.
There is no need for me to provide any further detail to the article. But what I want to express is my reaction to the time I met Arnold while working on stories related to the Sbarro attack. I sat down with Arnold in early September of last year. I wanted a chance to hear personally from him his side of the story regarding how it has affected himself, his family and their everyday routine. The impression I received was that it made the family unit stronger.
Perhaps that is why we all have had to go through this; hopefully; once in a lifetime experience of being in lockdown, due to the Coronavirus. Just to take time to contemplate what life is all about.
We have only had to do this for a few months at the most, Arnold, Frimet and their family have been thinking about this for nearly the past 19 years, since Malki was killed.
When I met Arnold, one of the main points that he brought across to me is that he just does not understand how his daughter’s killer could continue to enjoy freedom, while Malki’s life was taken away from her at such a young age. It was clear from my visit with Arnold, that Malki was a very talented young woman, who one day would have had the opportunity to become a Kallah and together with her Chasan, would most probably have produced children, and grandchildren. Arnold and his wife Frimet were robbed of this opportunity on that fateful day in August, 2001, just one month before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
A Virus Compared To Bacteria
Rabbi Friedman recently made a very impressive video taking a deeper look into the question of “What Is Life”. And in that video he pointed out a very interesting comparison with regard to Bacteria and Virus.
Bacteria is a living organism, which can be treated with antibiotics. While in the case of a virus, it does not have a life of its own, but rather acts like a parasite, and feeds off of those cells that are living.
That is why it is possible to have two types of Bacteria, one being good and the other being bad. But when it comes to a virus, there is only one type and that is bad.
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. Treatment of viral infections concentrate on treating symptoms while the infection runs its course.
Therefore, Viruses are not considered to be “living” because they require a host cell to survive long-term, for energy, and to reproduce.
Obviously, as its name indicates, COVID-19 is consistent with the definition of a Virus, which is totally bad and must be eliminated.
Terrorism In Any Form Should Be Classified As Another Form Of A Virus
It should therefore follow that the actions of a terrorist follow the general pattern of a microscopic virus cell which feeds off of a living being and many times causes death such as the current Coronavirus pandemic.
The value system of a terrorist is the exact opposite of the norm. A normal human being tries to build a family and home to continue the life cycle from generation to generation. The terrorist has only one purpose in mind and that is to cause suffering and death to his or her victim. The rise in terrorism in recent years throughout the world has resulted from the creation of many different terrorist organizations, which ultimately are defeated and disappear.
But here in Israel, the value system of one terrorist organization known as the PLO has been around since Israel gained its Independence in 1948. And that value system continues in force even today.
Terrorist attacks, rocket attacks, and all other forms of attacks intended to kill Israelis continue with no end in sight. Israel tried to make peace with the PLO many times but to no avail.
In 1994, it appeared a breakthrough had finally been made and the PLO leader was serious enough to put down his arms and talk peace. This resulted in the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize and the Committee making the award said the following-
The 1994 Nobel Peace Prize
In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel wrote that the Peace Prize could be awarded to the person who, in the preceding year, “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations”. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1994 to Arafat, Peres and Rabin is intended by the Norwegian Nobel Committee to honour a political act which called for great courage on both sides, and which has opened up opportunities for a new development towards fraternity in the Middle East. It is the Committee’s hope that the award will serve as an encouragement to all the Israelis and Palestinians who are endeavouring to establish lasting peace in the region.
Oslo, October 14, 1994
Less Than One Year Later The PLO Leader In Effect Refused To Keep His Part Of The Deal
Not even one year had passed, when the PLO leader himself said the following-
The Israelis are mistaken if they think we do not have an alternative to negotiations. By Allah I swear they are wrong. The Palestinian people are prepared to sacrifice the last boy and the last girl so that the Palestinian flag will be flown over the walls, the churches and the mosques of Jerusalem.
Yasser Arafat’s speech at a party to celebrate the birth of his daughter (August 6, 1995), as quoted in “Haaretz”, September 6, 1995, and in “The Jerusalem Post”, September 7, 1995.
With All This In Mind, I Want To Comment On The Main Terrorist Responsible For The Sbarro Terrorist Attack Which Took Place Six Years Later Almost To The Day
Looking at the abovementioned article, you will notice there is a picture of the terrorist with the word “Eight” written twice in the caption.
This was taken from a video where the terrorist is asked by the narrator if she knew how many children she was responsible for killing in the Sbarro attack. She guessed at a figure, and was smiling, as she answered. When the narrator told her that in fact Eight or a higher number had been killed from her original estimate, her smile became more pronounced.
Perhaps This Is The Most Devastating Part Of The Whole Story For Arnold and Frimet’s Family
Higher up in the abovementioned article, the following is written-
She (the terrorist) has been able to marry, to talk of starting a family, and to become something of a celebrity on the strength of her murderous exploits, while expressing regret only that more people were not killed. She cast their lives into darkness. But hers has been bright.
If We View The Actions Of A Terrorist Like That Of A Virus, Perhaps We Can Find Another Word To Replace The Word “Bright”
For his whole life, the PLO leader gave his blessing to the Sbarro terrorist along with all other terrorists throughout Israel and for that matter the world to carry out that type of operation. In other words, it was OK for PLO followers to have children and sacrifice those children to kill as many Israelis as possible. The Sbarro terrorist was simply following Arafat’s example to kill as many Israelis as possible, and the more children she killed the wider her smile became.
So the Sbarro terrorist may be smiling on the outside, but inside that head of hers is a very sick and confused individual who is dreaming of starting a family and then admits herself that she would kill more Israelis if she had the chance. She has no regrets and neither did Arafat until the day Arafat suffered a terrible death and left this world for good.
Terrorists usually appear to be enjoying themselves while they are committing their crimes, but at the end we are told G-d punishes them, and it is not for us to decide when.
Therefore that bright smile on the terrorist’s face that you see in the freeze-frame with the word “Eight” most probably will be wiped off her face in the foreseeable future, it’s just not for us to know when.
This Is Why, As I Understand It, Rabbi Manis Friedman Says In The Abovementioned Video, That We Must Concentrate On Life. (And May I Add, That We Should Let The Terrorist Concentrate On Death)
G-d has created the terrorist just like he created all of the rest of us. We should not tell G-d what to do, he knows perfectly well what he is doing Being a terrorist involves death as a primary goal.
But Rabbi Friedman seems to be saying, we should concentrate on our primary goal in life, which is to live life to the fullest. It difficult to let go when we lose a loved one in a terrorist attack or to COVID-19, but let go we must because we are still part of the living, and G-d has put us here to make the world a better place as Rabbi Friedman says.
But just as Rabbi Friedman says, a virus is really a dead cell with no possibility of life, and we must get rid of that. So it seems to follow that if we put all our energy in life, then we push away the threat of death.
I Promised To Discuss The Rebbe And The Saying “G-d Has His Eyes On Israel From The Beginning To The End Of The Year” In My Previous Blog
I apologize for delaying the discussion of the Rebbe and the above saying about Israel until an upcoming Blog, but since I felt Rabbi Friedman gave a very important message, I included it in this Blog instead.
A link Rabbi Friedman’s message appears below —