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A Call To Arms

Bare arms.jpgDear America,

We have been attacked, and we are still reeling from the shock. Outrage, fury and devastation are just some of the emotions we are all experiencing.

When Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor in 1941, we were also outraged. But then, we knew who the enemy was and we weren’t going to sit around and do nothing. So we sent in our military and we obliterated our enemy.

Now, after Omar Mateen murdered 49 people in Orlando, in the largest mass shooting in American history, we are also enraged. We would love to unleash our military might against the enemy, but where do we send our F16’s? To which country do we send our B52 bombers?

And so, we look for somebody or something to blame.

Democrats want to blame the lack of gun control, Republicans claim that if more citizens were armed, they could have prevented the attacks. Trump calls for a temporary ban on Muslims, while Obama and Clinton say that is outrageous.

So, what can we do?

It’s 2016, and we are fighting a very different type of war: homegrown terror and lone wolf attacks.

But whether it is San Bernardino, Orlando, Brussels, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Paris, there seems to be one common denominator:

The internet.

The current violence is being perpetrated by individuals who are being riled up from watching a YouTube channel or reading a Facebook post.

When a person posts something negative and hateful on the internet, it travels around the world within seconds, contaminating the mind of somebody in California or Orlando. Some crazy, deranged, guy may read it and be influenced to go on a mass shooting spree.

Of course, the ultimate responsibility and blame lies with the shooter. But, is there something we can do to help prevent the next attack?

There are 300 million of us living here in America. Ancient battles were fought by soldiers but today we are all warriors on the front lines.It is up to each and every one of us to counter this evil.

So, what do we do?

Start flooding your social media accounts with messages of love, hope and inspiration. Talk about how much you love your life and those in it. Every day post something inspirational, your Mitzvah and act of kindness. Let’s flood the internet with goodness and kindness. It will spread, filling people’s minds with hope and happiness.

This is the way to counter homegrown terror. We can influence the crazy few by flooding their news feed with messages of love, instead of animosity and hatred.

Together, we can do this.

Yours truly

Rabbi Uriel Vigler

Lies, Lies, and More Lies About Israel

Blog.jpgTwenty two years ago, I first studied the Mishna (Sotah 49B) which discusses the status of the world in the time leading up to the coming of Moshiach. Back then, when I read that “truth will be hidden,” I didn’t understand. Will there be no truth at all? The entire world will be full of lies? How could that be?

Likewise, when I read, “There will be tremendous chutspah in the world,” I had trouble comprehending. Maybe a little, I can understand. But a lot? And in the whole world? How is it possible?

But now, 22 years later, I’m starting to understand.

Last night, I was shocked by the terrible terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. Two Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israelis in cold blood, wounding six others.

When terrorists attack in any other first-world country, what happens? The entire world condemns it. Just look at Paris and Brussels! But when it happens in Israel, where is the condemnation? The outrage? Israel must fight to even have their terrorism acknowledged!

How was last night’s terrorist attack reported by the mainstream media?

“2 Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Gunmen Kill 3 in Central Tel Aviv” (RT News) 

“Tel Aviv Shooting: Three Killed in Shopping Center Attack” (BBC). 

“Two ‘Terrorists’ Arrested” (CNN).

“Three Killed In Mass Shooting in Tel Aviv” (Sky News) 

“Palestinian Gunmen Open Fire in Tel Aviv” (NY Times).

No mention of terrorism at all, except for CNN who mockingly put it in quotes. Baffling.

It’s fascinating that the Mishna, written by Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi over 2000 years ago, predicts so accurately the state of the world in 2016. Our world is, indeed, filled with falsehood and lies. If you need proof, look no further than these headlines describing the murder of innocent Jews at the hands of bloodthirsty Palestinian terrorists.

Today, the Washington Post’s headlines included, “Israel sends more troops to West Bank, freezes Palestinian entry permits after attack.”

Really? Is that the headline? Shouldn’t the headline be about the monstrous act of terror which necessitated Israel taking those steps to protect its citizens? Think what America would do if an act of terror, like this, happened. Surely, they would not be satisfied to call it a shooting and allow life to go on as usual.

Here are six truths the world needs to hear loudly and clearly:

1.      There is not, nor has there ever been, a Palestinian nation.

2.      Israel belongs to the Jewish people. G-d gave the land of Israel to the Jews over 4000 years ago, and we have had a continuous presence there for the past 3300 years.

3.      There are no “Israeli settlements.” There are Jewish people living in Jewish homes and Jewish towns. 

4.      Israel is the victim, not the aggressor.

5.      These terrorist attacks are not the work of a few Palestinian extremists. Polls show that well over half of them support the cold-blooded butchering of innocent Jews.

6.      The Arab objective is not to establish the 22nd Arab state, but to destroy the only Jewish state. 

The Mishna which addresses the state we currently find ourselves in—a world of lies—prophetically ends, “On whom can we rely? On our Father in Heaven.” We see this now, more than ever. He is our only hope. Let’s get together this week, for the holiday of Shavuot, and re-declare our love for Him, and commitment to His Torah.

Isaiah vs. Harambe; Boy vs. Gorilla

Blog.jpgDear Isaiah,

The internet has been abuzz with your story all week. Millions of people worldwide watched the video of you being dragged across a moat by Harambe, the 450-pound gorilla.

I am not sure how, at three years old, you managed to climb over a 3-foot high railing, walk through bushes and then jump 15 feet into a shallow moat, but hey, you did it! 

I must say, I love gorillas. I was born in Zimbabwe and raised in South Africa, and every year during vacation our family would spend a few days at the Kruger National Park enjoying the lions, cheetah, gorillas etc. As a result, I developed a deep love for animals. And so your story touched my heart, as it touched millions of others across the globe.

To save your life, Cincinnati Zoo officials shot and killed their beloved Harambe. Thank G-d you came out safe.

The incident ignited nationwide uproar, some criticizing the zoo’s decision to kill the gorilla instead of using other means such as a tranquilizer, and others pointing fingers at your mother.

Really, it all boils down to whose life is more important. Yours or Harambes? A 3-year-old little boy, or a 17-year-old almost-extinct gorilla?

The answer, Isaiah, depends on you. As humans, we are different from animals in a unique way—we have the ability to make our minds rule over our hearts. That means we can use our rationale to temper and control our emotions and desires. If we feel hatred in our hearts, for example, we can use our minds to transform that into feelings of love. If we see something we really want, but doesn't belong to us, we can use our heads to overcome that temptation.

A gorilla, on the other hand, cannot do this. Animals are ruled by instinct. They need to eat, they eat. They need to sleep, they sleep. They need to kill, they kill. A gorilla, like all animals, is ruled by his nature and cannot transcend it.

And so, Isaiah, if you grow up and perform acts of goodness and kindness, then you are much greater than the gorilla. If you live your life by using your mind to rule your heart, your life is infinitely more worthwhile than the gorilla's.

You see, when G-d created the world, he created animals before humans. Why?

If man rises above his ego, we say, "Look, you were created last, like a king. Everything else was created for you, ready for the moment you came into existence." But if a person acts inappropriately, we say, "Look, even animals are better than you—they were created first!"

So, Isaiah, what kind of life will you live? If you make the right choices, you will forever silence the critics who think the gorilla's life was more important than yours. It's up to you.

Wishing you a productive life

Rabbi Uriel Vigler 

GRAPHIC CONTENT: VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED – Video of the Gorilla 

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