These past two days have been the most difficult for our people in the last fifty years. It was Simchat Torah, a time for rejoicing, yet it was a time of horror. Nearly a thousand members of our family were brutally murdered, more than a hundred were taken hostage, and thousands more were injured. After the Holocaust, we vowed, “Never Again.” Yet, since the Holocaust, we have never lost so many in a single day. And still, the danger continues: the war lies ahead. Yes, we mustered a brave face these last two days and forced ourselves to dance, but it was with heavy hearts.
At this moment, thousands of Jews are streaming to Israel from around the world to contribute to the coming war. We pray for their safety and for a miraculous unprecedented victory that will save our hostages and eliminate the terror organizations. But make no mistake about this. They are not the only fighters. We are each a fighter in this cause.
King David famously wrote, “These come by chariots and those come by horses, but we invoke the name of G-d.” David was a warrior who fought and won many battles. But he was also a deep fount of inspiration and faith as reflected in his poetry, the book of Psalms. His worldview is the quintessential Jewish worldview. Wars are fought with weapons, but their outcomes are up to G-d.
Many among us are wondering what we can do to help. There is much that we can do. When David’s warriors went to fight, he always drafted a contingent of Jews to study and pray. We are this vital contingent. Our role is to appeal to G-d to rescind what is clearly a terrible decree.
Here are some examples:
Solidarity and Optimism:
Join your fellows in prayer with faith and optimism in the best possible outcome. Hard as it might be, try to park your realism and pessimism at the door. Our fighters need our optimism. Positive energy begets positive energy; as our beloved teachers have said, “Think good, and it will be good.”
In my previous message, I offered examples of tiny steps that we can take to increase our observance of G-d’s Mitzvah. Take on a resolution along those lines. It can be extra charity, an increase in Shabbat observance, lighting Shabbat candles on time, Torah study, Kashrut, putting up a new mezuzah, etc. When you do these Mitzvot, dedicate them to the safety of our brethren around the world, especially in Israel.
Mezuzah and Tefilin are two Mitzvot that are especially conducive to enhancing Jewish safety. A mezuzah protects not only your home but all Jewish homes around the world and in Israel. Our sages declared that when we wear Tefilin, our enemies are weakened and become fearful. Ask yourself if there is a doorway in your home, office, or cottage that can use a mezuzah. Ask yourself if you can fit tefilin into your daily routine. Do it for Israel.
Israel needs our support. Moral, emotional, and financial. The vilification of Israel in the medial and city squares has already begun. How the victim can be blamed is beyond me. Yet, we won’t get into arguments with our colleagues and neighbors. We will, however, help them see that right and wrong are not relative. Moreover, if you know someone in Israel, call them to express your emotional and moral support.
There are countless ways to offer financial support at a time like this. Choose your charity and direct your funds or useful supplies to where they can be used best.
Above all, let us remember that our contribution is vital. The outcome of wars is in G-d’s hands. While our brave soldiers place themselves in harm’s way to prosecute the war, our contribution will help them achieve victory and keep them safe.
With tears and a breaking heart, and yet a heart filled with faith and trust in G-d,
Rabbi Lazer Gurkow