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Israel is the safest place in the world!

Blog.jpgThis week I Whatsapped my cousins living in Israel, “Whats up? How is the situation in Israel?” and they all said, “We are scared. We do not venture out unless we absolutely must. We are afraid. We look at every Arab with suspicion. We try to avoid public transportation and crowded places.” This is the situation in Israel in 2015.

Many Israeli citizens are living in fear. During the past wars we knew where the enemy was. We knew who the enemy was. Today we have no idea where the next knife attack will come from. The terrorist who drove his car into a bus stop last week was an Arab Israeli citizen living in Israel and working at an Israeli firm. Today we don’t know if it’s a male terrorist, a female or even a child. The terror attacks are happening everywhere, and unfortunately, incitement continues on social media unabated. No one knows when and where the next terrorist will strike.

We are living in dangerous times.

It reminds me of growing up in South Africa in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

My mother was attacked and violently beaten in our home. My brother was car jacked. Many of my friends were mugged. Every day there was another mugging, another carjacking. Our house (like all houses in South Africa) was surrounded by a tall fence, barbed wires and electronic gates. Every gate and window is covered with security bars. I grew up with two German shepherds and an English mastiff—three massive dogs for our protection. And our house was alarmed with strategically placed panic buttons, which send an alert to a private security company that dispatches armed responders. 

I lived in fear and suspicion. Always looking around to see who else was on the street. Carrying a stick and pepper spray. Always trying to determine which passerby might have a weapon. I avoided walking home at night, and I drove up to my home cautiously in case there was someone waiting there to harm me. This is how I spent many years of my early life.

When the apartheid regime fell, people were afraid the situation would snowball. Local newspapers predicted bloodshed and violent civil war. Many people left South Africa. But there was one person who promised that South Africa would be good to the Jews until the coming of Moshiach, and that was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The Rebbe promised South African Jewry that everything would be ok, and so despite the fear, we had confidence in the future.

I believe the Rebbe’s promise swayed the opinion of many South African Jews. Rabbis told their congregants not to worry, and today South African Jewry continues to thrive, the situation is relatively peaceful and life is good. In fact, just recently two of my sisters moved back to South Africa where my parents and two other siblings still live.

When it comes to Israel, the Rebbe often quoted the Biblical verse which states that Israel is the land upon which “the eyes of G-d are there, from the beginning of the year until the end.” The Rebbe consistently said that Israel is the safest place, where G-d protects us.

When there’s so much murder and bloodshed, it’s hard to see this. But we know that through it all, G-d will protect us, we will defeat our enemies, and our spirit will not be broken.

Last summer, tens of thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali—the three boys murdered by Palestinian terrorists. The day was swelteringly hot, and the crowd stretched for miles down the road. Along the way, somebody planted a huge hand-painted banner, which read: “Am ha-netzach lo mifached mei-haderech arucha” – “The eternal nation is not afraid of the long journey.”

That said it all.

Despite the trials and tribulation we have suffered throughout the long and arduous journey of our history, we are not broken, nor crushed, we are not disheartened nor dispirited. We will triumph. 

Let’s Flood The World!

Moshe was in his office reading the Al Jazeera news. A friend approached him, very upset."Moishe, have you lost your mind? Why are you reading an Arabic website?" 

Moishe explained, "I used to read the Israeli websites, but what did I find? Jews being persecuted, Israel being attacked, Jews disappearing through assimilation and intermarriage, Jews living in poverty… So I switched to the Al Jazeera. Now what do I find? Jews own all the banks, Jews control the media, Jews are all rich and powerful, Jews rule the world. The news is so much better!" 

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the Flood which descended upon the entire world 4,000 years ago. The world has changed significantly since then, but we are again flooded—this time not with water, but with violence and terrorism. 

We even read the word “hamas” in this week’s parsha. “And the world was filled with ‘hamas’ – robbery.”  De ja vu. 

The last week has been a violent and bloody one for our brothers and sisters in Israel. Terrorists are stabbing Jews with their knives, shooting Jews with their guns, and running Jews over with their cars. The attacks have been deadly and unprovoked. 

The internet is flooded with videos of how to kill Jews. Young children are playing video games in which the winner is the one who kills the most Jews. Youtube videos and Facebook posts inciting terror and bloodshed are rampant, and teachers and religious leaders are brainwashing their students and followers to hate and murder us. 

Even the state department issued a shocking statement about Israel using “excessive force”! And the lies that are being spread are simply preposterous. Lies about Israel executing children. Lies about Israel killing poor, innocent Arabs—Arabs who just cold-bloodedly murdered Jews! 

The flood of lies and terror is threatening to drown us.

Concerning the Flood, King Solomon writes, “Tremendous waters cannot extinguish the love, and rivers will not drown it.” Rashi explains that “tremendous waters” and “rivers” refer to the nations of the world. King Solomon explains that regardless of what the nations of the world try to do to us, we will prevail. Nothing will dampen our tremendous love and faith in G-d. 

We are a strong, resilient nation. We are believers, the children of believers. No matter what they try to do us, we will win. We will retain our faith, and our unity, our honesty and our morals. We will not murder and harm innocent people. As Jews, we cherish life. We pursue righteousness and truth, and we yearn for peace. 

Being physically distant can make us feel helpless in the face of all this violence, but we can help in small ways. By going out of our way to support Israeli products and organizations we can help support both the economy and citizen morale. Good deeds are powerful spiritual weapons. By giving extra charity, putting on tefillin, saying a blessing, lighting Shabbat candles or doing any extra mitzvah, we can add to Israel’s security. We can also pray for the injured and for the safety of all Jews, and do our part to spread the truth about the terrorism. Together we can create a flood of goodness and blessing, to counteract the flood of violence.

Am I my Brother’s Keeper?

In this week’s parshah we read about the very first murder in the history of the world.

Adam’s two sons, Kayin and Hevel, begin to fight. What could they possibly fight about? After all, the entire world belonged to them! They had everything they could possibly desire.

According to the Midrash, the brothers divided up the entire world, but they both wanted to have the Beit Hamikdash on their property. Despite owning literally the entire world—which is more than even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet combined—they fought over the Temple mount.

Kayin killed his brother Hevel so that he could have the Temple mount.

G-d shouted at Kayin, “Where is your brother, Hevel?”

Kayin famously responded, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

“The bloods of your brother are shouting at me from ground,” said G-d.

Why does it use the plural “bloods” rather than just “blood”? Because Kayin did not yet know how to kill. He punched and kicked Hevel all over, drawing blood from every part of his body, until he finally realized that to kill you need to hurt the victim in the head.

So, the very first murder, ever, a bloody and gruesome murder, was over the Land of Israel.

                                                   ~~~~~~~~~

A wave of terror has hit Israel over the past week. The Temple mount is on lockdown.  There is blood everywhere. Jewish blood is being spilled in the North, in the South, in central Israel, everywhere. Jews are being stabbed, shot, stoned, etc. The situation is volatile and extremely dangerous. The entire Israel is on the front line of a war.

And the words we read from the Torah reverberate in our minds: “The bloods of your brother are shouting at me from the ground.”

And indeed, the blood of our brothers and sisters in Israel is screaming. The blood of innocent Israeli civilians in the West bank, Petach Tikvah, Tel Aviv, Yehuda and Shomron, is the blood of our brothers. It is the blood of Eitam and Naama Henkin who were butchered in front of their children. It is the blood of Nahmia Lavi and Aaron Bennet who were murdered in the Old City. Their blood, and the blood of all the other victims, is bellowing at us, desperately trying to be heard.

Make no mistake, the violence is in Israel, but the venom and hatred is for Jews worldwide.

Kayin asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The answer is a resounding “yes!” It is our absolute, sacred responsibility to do everything in our power to help our brothers and sisters in Israel.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, taught us how we can help, even from the other side of the world. How? By doing a mitzvah, then another and another. Every single mitzvah we do helps ensure Israel’s security. When we keep kosher, wear tefillin, pray, light Shabbat candles or say a blessing, we are helping Israel.

We may not be able to fight physically, but we can fight spiritually. The very least we can do is some extra mitzvoth for the safety and security of the citizens and soldiers of our homeland. Give some extra money to charity, put up a mezuzah on your door, reach out to someone in need…

Stop whatever you’re doing right now, and do a mitzvah for Israel. We ARE our brothers’ keepers!

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