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Dovid Vigler

We Have Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself!

Image by ADL: https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/fight-antisemitism

How Jews Have Made Miracles Happen

The nightmare is getting worse.

If it wasn’t bad enough that we experienced the horrific slaughter of our brethren in Israel on October 7, an alarming swell of public opinion is actually supporting the Hamas barbarians. From college campuses to public rallies, it’s unthinkable that seemingly decent Americans could possibly stand in support of the bloodthirsty Hamas. Just the thought of Americans rallying for Nazis is enough to make you throw up. If those who stand for Gaza would stand in Gaza, they would quickly get all the education they need.

Never in our lives have we experienced such open hatred to global Jewry.

How do we respond?

Though our natural instinct is to react with fear, we urge you to thoughtfully reconsider replacing it with courage and fearless faith, because our very survival depends on it!

The Torah on Parshas Lech Lecha introduced us to the very first Jew, Abraham. What qualified him to be chosen for this prestigious role was his extraordinary ability to overcome his fear in the most harrowing of circumstances.

The very first of the Ten Tests of Abraham was when the pagan King Nimrod forced all his subjects to worship him as their god. Anyone refusing would be hurled into a flaming furnace, alive. Abraham courageously refused and was cast into the raging fire. Instead of exhibiting fear, he trusted wholly in G-d Almighty as the ultimate power over all details in the Universe and thus manifested calm trust and serenity. After being cast into the furnace, he miraculously survived to the awe and shock of all the gloating spectators. This experience was so profoundly impactful on the world at that time, that it placed Abraham’s faith in One G-d into the center stage of society, thus establishing Abraham as the Father of Monotheism, and the most influential human being in human history.

Chabad philosophy identifies this experience as the defining moment of Judaism.

When faced with a crisis of any kind, a person has a choice—to react either with fear or with faith. The former betrays his belief that he is subject to the laws of nature and science; the latter demonstrates his belief that he is subject only to the power of G-d Almighty who can make miracles at will.

Since “Hashem Tzilcha, G-d is your Shadow” (Psalms 121:5), Hashem follows our every action with an equal and opposite reaction. G-d treats us in exactly the way that we treat Him. When we react with fear we are showing that we believe that the laws of nature reign supreme. When we are fearless, we show that we believe in miracles.

Hence, fear from natural causes attracts natural results. Courage and fearlessness that come from believing in Divine intervention thus attract miraculous results! Fear leads to normal expectations; fearless courage makes miracles happen!

Had Abraham’s emotional response to being cast into the fire been fear, he would have been burned. Only because he had the courage to be fearless by trusting in G-d’s miracles was he able to bring G-d’s miracles upon him!

Having the courage to overcome his natural instinct to fear the external perception by seeing beyond the surface to the deeper truth is what qualified Abraham to be chosen as the First Jew. Today we, the children of Abraham, are called upon to do the same—to exhibit no fear from Hamas and their political cronies as we find serenity and peace in the ever-present embrace of G-d Almighty.

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King Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that our heart is the microcosm of all existence. What we feel in our hearts within us is what manifests in the reality around us! When we exhibit no fear from the haters that surround us, this powerful emotion itself will result in G-d’s Divine intervention with miraculous results!

This profound insight transforms every crisis into an opportunity: How we choose to respond to it is what dictates the outcome!

Hence, the Hebrew word for ‘crisis’—‘mashber’—also means a birthing stool. Only a fool would think that the pain of childbirth is intended solely to hurt the mother. Everyone understands that the end—a beautiful new life—justifies the means, the temporary pain. In exactly the same way, every crisis we face is sent to us as a test—it’s an opportunity to allow us to reach higher and deeper than we ever could have reached before. The only question is if we will give up during the intensity of the crisis or if will we have the vision to see it through to the end.

Fear is so dangerous to our outcome that it’s actually the most oft-repeated directive in the entire Torah—”Al Tira, Do not fear.” More than 110 times, the Torah instructs us to not be afraid!

An easy way to divest fear is when you realize that you can only think of one thought at a time. You make the choice of what you will think about next. If you choose to think about G-d’s miracles and endless kindness to you, then you will not be able to entertain a fearful thought.

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Indeed, the Haftorah of the first Shabbos after the Simchas Torah massacre on October 7, was the haunting words of Isaiah in the opening of his forty-third chapter. Here Isaiah makes it abundantly clear that if we are willing to just divest ourselves of the fear, by recognizing the infinite power of our Father in Heaven, we will be victorious over all forces that seek to harm us.

But now thus said G-D —
Who created you, O Jacob, Who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I will redeem you;
I have singled you out by name, you are Mine.

When you pass through water, I will be with you;
Through streams, they shall not overwhelm you.
When you walk through fire, you shall not be scorched;
Through flame, it shall not burn you.

Essentially, life is a series of Divine tests. It’s not a sprint, it’s a hurdle race, where your obstacles are part of the journey toward victory. Don’t allow your trials to dishearten you; they’ve been placed there for a very specific purpose. When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it!

Admittedly, faith doesn’t come easily. Previous generations might have failed to connect the dots of the extraordinary experiences that they had endured, overlooking them as random or scientific phenomena. It behooves us to undo their error by deeply contemplating the miracles that we have already experienced in our lives and see the miraculous hand of G-d that has already done so much for us. Faith is taking the first step even when we don’t see the full staircase.

We understand that fear is natural. It’s built into our psyche to protect us from hurting ourselves. Letting go of it is nothing short of insane. But letting go of fear in order to let G-d, is nothing short of sublime. Both faith and fear demand that you believe in something you cannot see. Which will you choose?

_______________________
Rabbi Dovid Vigler
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens

6100 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
JewishGardens.com | 561.624.2223

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About the Author
Raised in South Africa and educated in some of the finest Yeshivas in Israel, England, New York, and Australia, Rabbi Dovid Vigler strives to share the beauty and depth of Judaism in a clear, conversational, and down-to-earth manner. Whether in private counseling, relatable sermons, weekly email broadcasts, or in his popular Torah classes on social media, he reaches out to every Jew with unconditional love, patience, and compassion. His inspirational talks and uplifting messages can be found on YouTube.com/JewishGardens and Facebook.com/JewishGardens
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