Today, in synagogue in South Florida, I was almost brought to tears when a lady walked in for Shabbat services wrapped up in an Israeli flag.
It was not Israel’s Independence Day or Memorial Day. There was no march going on for Israel’s advocacy and the right for Jews to exist and live as free people. There was no counterprotest against the evil Hamas proponents, who are rampaging in the streets of New York, London, and Paris and want to destroy Israel and murder the Jews.
But this lady walks in, and Alexandra is her name. She was holding her Jewish head up high, with the holy Israeli flag, modeled after the blue and white talit (Jewish prayer shawl), wrapped around her body and the Star of David prominently on the back.
I thought to myself that given the state of heightened anti-Semitism and violence against us, not only in Israel since the October 7 pogrom but around the entire world, she was quite brave to walk the streets alone with this “target on her back.”
After services, I went up to her and asked her about it. She said her father cautioned her against wearing the Israeli flag, but she insists on showing her pride in being and living as a Jew.
Alexandra told me she’s been wearing the Israeli flag every day since October 7. I asked if she was afraid and whether anyone had said anything threatening or attacking her since. And she said, yes, but she won’t stop wearing it to express her solidarity with Israel, the IDF, and Jews worldwide.
I asked her how long she planned to wear it. And she said until this war against Hamas is over, no matter how long it takes!
I told her how proud it made me feel and that I stood with her in solidarity—that this was truly a fight of good over evil in the world. Moreover, it is not just a fight for the physical survival of the State of Israel less than 80 years after the Holocaust, but it is a fight as well for our spiritual existence as a Jewish people among the hordes of rabid Jew haters who want to see the world Judenrein (Jew-free as in the “Final Solution”).
Today, Rabbi Schneur Kaplan of Fort Lauderdale’s Downtown Jewish Center Chabad (DJCC) explained that we are made up of soul and body and that when we are born, the pure soul doesn’t want to come down to this physical world where there is envy, lust, corruption, and evil. However, only once the soul and body are united can we bring holiness and goodness to this world.
The body without the soul is lifeless. The soul, free of the physical body, can’t do anything positive or constructive. Only the body and soul together can actively serve Hashem and make a better world for each of us.
Truly, it is wonderful to drape our bodies in the holy flag of Israel. Zionism is the body, and Torah Judaism is the worship and soul. This wonderful lady, who wore the flag of Israel to synagogue, embodied both. And just one without the other will never do!
These days, when evil raises its ugly head in terrorism and the advocacy for beheading babies, putting children in bird cages, raping women to death, burning people alive, and widespread murder, it is hard to see any soul or holiness that perhaps ever even existed in these people. On top of that, when Israel defends itself and works to uproot Hamas terrorism that hides behind human shields in schools, mosques, hospitals, and on Gaza’s main street, these Jew-haters then want to try to blame us.
However, there is a big difference between us and them. They teach hate and believe in killing, while we pray that we don’t have to hurt anyone, ever. The Rabbi told me, for example, about a young man who is serving in the IDF, and he told him that he asks G-d every day that he shouldn’t have to take any life in the ongoing battles. How different this is from the terrorist who was recently recorded calling his parents and proclaiming in the utmost joy and pride that he just murdered ten Jews.
As Jews, we abhor war and the taking of life, even when we are attacked and have no choice but to defend our people and land. To us, the taking of one life is a whole world, and every hostage must come home! In contrast to our enemies, the murder of 1200 Israelis is only a down payment for what they’d like to do to all of us if they could just get the chance.
Their hatred and thirst for Jewish blood have proven themselves to be absolutes. It predated the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and any excuses of colonialism, occupation, or apartheid. It existed before the Green Line of 1967. It existed before the separation barrier and the checkpoints to protect us from their murderous terrorism. It continued through their repeated rejections of a two-state solution and offers of durable peace. It carried on after Oslo, Camp David, and Taba. It existed even with Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and much of the West Bank. And they persist regardless of acts of brotherhood and kindness from the Israeli left or acts of separation and self-defense from the Israeli right.
While the greedy and corrupt Palestinian leadership gets rich pocketing the West’s endless “humanitarian aid,” they keep the Palestinian people impoverished and helpless on a system of generational aid and in the squalor of refugee camps. During the chaos and disruption of World War II, with close to a hundred million victims, displaced persons, and refugees, the entire world—including the Jewish people who had six million murdered—went on and managed to rebuild their lives and contribute something back to the world. Except for the lone Palestinians, who have stayed frozen in time and dependence. Further, as they reject peace and call for the destruction of Israel and the endless killing of innocents, they continue to breed not only their despondency but, worse, a bottomless hatred and murderous evil in their hearts and minds.
We all need to hope and pray that Israel is successful in fighting Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad because rest assured that they are waiting not just in marches and protests in our capitals and invasions across our borders but are ready to rampage and murder “the infidels” whenever and wherever they can. In the end, if you look aside in silence and acquiescence now, no one will end up safe in a radial Islamic world that puts its faith in and inculcates ongoing hate, intifada, and Jihad.