The current situation with Syria reminds me of an episode that occurred in January 1991 in Toronto. I had taken my son for swimming lessons while my wife stayed in the car, anxiously listening to the news about Israel. Those were very tense times, with Iraq threatening to attack Israel with chemical weapons, God forbid.
At the time, the Lubavitcher Rebbe gave much encouragement to the Jewish people, assuring them that Israel was the safest land of all. He quoted the verse that says that God watches over Israel from the beginning to the end of the year.
He also said that a medrash in the Yalkut Shemoni predicted the impending war, and that the medrash quoted God as reassuring the Jewish people that they have nothing to fear. Furthermore, everything is being done for their benefit and the time of their redemption has arrived.
And then the missiles hit. The news networks were reporting that there were many casualties. My wife was very distraught and beside herself, asking where the Rebbe’s assurances were.
Rabbi Moshe Spalter, a Lubavitcher shaliach in Toronto, had also brought his son to the swimming lesson. He heard the news, thought for a moment, and then said that he doesn’t know how it would be, but he’s sure that since the Rebbe assured us, everything will be fine.
Sure enough, it turned out that the reporters had made their assumption incorrectly. God showed us His tremendous miracles, shielding the Jewish people.
As I think about what has transpired since then – the toppling of dictators, the elimination of many terrorists, and the weakening of many threatening regimes – I feel that the Rebbe’s assurance and the Yalkut Shemoni’s medrash are relevant for both today and for the future.
So now, when the international powers have forced Syria to agree to dismantle its chemical weapons, I think back to the time when a Lubavitcher shaliach showed such strong emunah in the Rebbe’s words – that God would protect us.