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November 22, 2014 / 29 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad House’

Mumbai Doctor, Wife Complete Conversion In Israel On Holtzberg Yahrzeit

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

JERUSALEM – An Indian couple completed their halachic conversion and remarried in a Jewish ceremony at the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron last week, on the first anniversary of the murder of their friends and spiritual guides, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg.

Dr. Aharon Abraham left his position as director of the ICU Medical Center at British Kennedy in Mumbai, India, after terrorists killed the Holtzbergs.

Abraham was born Vagirds Frads to a Hindu cleric who worshipped idols, and a mother who prepared food for them. Like the biblical Abraham, young Vagirds could not understand why his father honored a man-made statue, or why his mother would cook for them.

Unlike the patriarch, however, he waited until after graduating high school to confront his father, asking how he could believe “such nonsense.” But when there was no reply, his anger led him to take a hammer and smash the idols, exactly as Abraham had done.

“The gods are angry!” his father shouted at him, he recounted, and recalled his reply: “If they’re angry, let them do something .”

It was while studying medicine at the University of Mumbai that he first read a Bible, given to him by Christian students. “A new world opened before me,” he said.

The woman he married, a nurse, was equally interested in his Bible studies, and after their wedding the couple changed their family name to “Abraham” to honor the patriarch. Vagirds became Aaron, because “the priest was a wonderful person, full of glory,” he explained.

Eventually the couple decided to convert, and began studying Judaism in earnest with the Holtzbergs, Chabad emissaries in Mumbai.

“Our whole life centered around the Chabad House,” said Abraham. “It was the only place where we could get kosher food. Gabi and Rivky were our guides, we did not move without them. We began a process of true conversion and found the extraordinary beauty of the Torah commandments.”

It was the brutal murder of the Holtzbergs and their four guests at the Nariman Chabad House that changed their lives forever, however.

“They took away my Master,” said Abraham. “But what we learned from Gabi and Rivki will accompany us and our children forever.”

(INN)

Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg: Two Brief And Shining Lives

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009


Editor’s Note: On Nov. 26, 2008 – the Hebrew date was Cheshvan 29, which this year fell on Monday, Nov. 16 – Islamic terrorists went on a savage killing spree in Mumbai, India, murdering 179 people including Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg. The following tribute to the Holtzbergs was written by Rabbi Holtzberg’s sister.



The lives Gabi and Rivky led were beyond comprehension; there are so many people they touched, so many stories they inspired. I have selected a few personal recollections and touching moments that exemplify just how truly amazing they were.



I thought I knew my brother. I was proven wrong during the week of shiva and the difficult days that followed, as incredible stories kept pouring in about him and his eishes chayil Rivky. I feel so privileged to have been his baby sister and I treasure the special closeness we shared. I will always remember all those heart to heart conversations we shared as teenagers that would last all night.


I will never forget the time I was in high school and Gabi was studying in yeshiva in Jerusalem and he agreed to do my 40-page research paper on the topic of ahavas Yisrael, love of a fellow Jew. How he exemplified this great deed!


We believed it before, but to hear from so many complete strangers whom he helped not only reaffirmed and strengthened our love and


appreciation for him, it empowered us to be better ourselves.


The mitzvah of mikveh exemplifies the self-sacrifice of Gabi and Rivky. Before they eventually constructed the beautiful Mei Menachem in Mumbai, Rivky would fly six hours each way to use the mikveh in Thailand. I remember how proud they were at their own mikveh dedication. Until their last day they dedicated all their energies to ensure the mikveh in Mumbai was in tip-top shape. In fact, Gabi and Rivky both stayed up until 3 in the morning on November 26 cleaning and preparing their mikveh.


Gabi had such strength of character. He was utterly selfless, never putting his feelings in front of anyone else’s. There are two incidents that stand out as I think about his childhood years.


When my brother was 14, fresh off his bar mitzvah, he was sent to yeshiva in Argentina. One morning he went into the shul and was shocked to discover his precious new tefillin were gone. Stolen.


Gabi never informed our parents of this until much later. He taught himself how to read from the Torah and found a local shul in need of a weekly reader. Every week he would save the $50 he earned until he was able to purchase a new pair of tefillin for himself. He didn’t have the heart to ask my parents to buy a new pair again.


The other incident occurred when the Jewish center (also known as the Amia), right next to the yeshiva, was bombed by terrorists.


Understandably, my parents were frantic to hear from Gabi. My mother immediately called the yeshiva and asked to speak with him. We were shocked to hear that Gabi – a boy of 14 – had volunteered to participate in the rescue and recovery efforts, helping to locate bodies among the rubble of the collapsed building. His noble character was evident even as a young child.


Gabi and Rivky chose to live in Mumbai because that was where they were needed. They went there knowing the difficulty of being so far away from family and friends and the comforts of the community.


Rivky would bake bread every day from scratch. Gabi would shecht and kasher hundreds of chickens every week. They chose this way of life because Mumbai needed a rabbi. Mumbai needed a rebbetzin. There were Jews in need and Gabi and Rivky heeded their call.


Gabi and Rivky’s Chabad House was a beacon of light, the home away from home for so many. There was not a Jew who went to Mumbai who was not welcomed. Gabi, like Avraham Avinu, literally went out into the streets to bring people into his home.



Two years ago, my parents were fortunate to spend Pesach with Gabi and Rivky. Looking at their worn-out couches, my mother asked Rivky, “What happened to your couches? They were brand new!” To which Rivky responded: “They are not our couches; they belong to everyone here!”


To Gabi and Rivky, nothing was impossible; the word was not even in their vocabulary.


They were so excited when their offer of $700,000 for the purchase of the six-story Chabad House was accepted. They would finally have the necessary space to expand and to offer more programs to the Jews of Mumbai. It was a dream come true for them.


They were still overjoyed when told they would have to pay for it all in cash. Even when the owner wanted a million dollars more and everyone thought Gabi would drop the idea and move on, he did not. He became even more determined to make this dream a reality. The additional million was raised in an astonishingly short period of time and the building was paid for, in cash.


Nothing – nothing – was too hard or overwhelming for them. Their love of and dedication to their work knew no bounds.


Gabi paid out of his own pocket for coupons enabling incarcerated Jews to buy necessary items in prison. And he spent much of his money bribing prison guards to let him enter so that he could visit around Jewish holidays.


He ignited the spark in so many Jewish souls – even those who might have thought they had been forgotten. Gabi was there for them. He was there for everyone.


My mother recalls how, when she was there for Pesach, a female prisoner was released after years of incarceration. Rivky threw a party the way only she knew how to. She cooked a gourmet meal and greeted the woman as happily and warmly as if she were her own sister.


During shiva week, someone sat down and told us that when he was in India, he, like all too many Israeli youths backpacking through the country, became addicted to drugs. His emotional health deteriorated to the point where his father had to come to India to bring him back home to Israel. His condition was so bad that when he arrived at the airport he was not allowed to board the flight for fear of endangering passengers and crew. The father didn’t know what to do. No hotel was ready to admit them either.


Realizing he had no other choice, he turned for help to the Israeli ambassador in India. The ambassador sent them to the Chabad House where they were welcomed with open arms. My brother spent days and nights with the young man and helped him through rehabilitation. All this simply because he was a Jew who needed his help.


Gabi was not a social worker or a psychologist, but the nature of his job required that he be one to so many lost souls searching and yearning for some sort of connection.


This young man then told us, “Gabi introduced me to my wife, with whom I live so happily today. I owe my life to him.” At that point he began to weep.


During the tsunami that ravaged the region in 2004, Gabi risked his life by traveling five days across the country just to locate a missing American girl. He took a satellite phone with him so the girl would be able to call home and comfort her worried parents, who had contacted Gabi directly when they saw the news.



So many people owe their lives to my brother and sister-in-law. A cousin who spent six months at the Chabad House was a witness to the following story.


There was a man who resided in the Chabad House for two years while waiting for his son to be released from prison. While there, he became very ill and had to undergo a heart procedure. He begged my brother to take him to the local hospital. My brother refused.


Instead, he took him to a fully modernized medical center and hired a private surgeon to provide the man the help he needed. He did all this happily and without a second thought, though it cost him thousands of dollars. There was no dollar amount in the world that would impede Gabi from fulfilling his mission, that would prevent him from assisting others.


Another woman who came during shiva week told us how a friend of her daughter had come to the Chabad House and mentioned to my sister-in-law that she would be leaving the next day on a long trip up north.


“Don’t forget to stop by and say goodbye before you go,” Rivky said to her. When the girl returned the next day to bid farewell, she was shocked to find no less than thirty sandwiches waiting for her to take along on the trip. Each sandwich was carefully wrapped so that it would last a long period of time. Each roll was hand baked with so much love. The flour was sifted so carefully and the spreads were all prepared from scratch.


“My daughter’s friend,” our visitor related, “was so touched that she promised she would always keep kosher. She said if you could do it in India, you could do it anywhere.”


When we were walking away from the burial at the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem, a diamond merchant by the name of Naava came over and told us how Gabi would come to her hotel room and personally deliver Rivky’s warm, delicious food. Once when he came she noticed he had butterfly stitches on his forehead. When he told her a board fell on his head, she said, “Oh my! That’s terrible!” Gabi responded with his signature smile, “Don’t feel bad! I am so happy that it fell on me. Just imagine – it could’ve fallen on another Jew, God forbid.”


That was my brother.



i would like to share a few words about my nephew Moishele. It is known that before Hashem sends a makah, an illness or tragedy, he first creates the refuah, the cure. Moishele is our refuah – the miracle the world witnessed as his brave nanny Sandra rushed out from the Chabad House clutching him tightly in her arms.


Moishele gave us reason to hope. He continues to give us the strength to endure.


He was Gabi and Rivky’s miracle child even before this episode. He was the light of their lives. He shared and continues to share such an amazing connection with his parents. He feels their presence constantly. Recently, in preparation for his third birthday, Moishele, as is customary, began wearing tzitzis. He was so excited, running around the house kissing them right and left. He stopped in front of a picture of his parents and put his tzitzis to their lips so that they too could partake in his mitzvah.


My parents recently spent a month with Moishele over the summer in Israel. My father sang niggunim, chassidic chants, with him for hours. There was one particular niggun Gabi loved. It was the niggun of my ancestor, Reb Michele Zlotchever. This niggun also happened to have been chanted by the thousands of mourners at the burial on the Mount of Olives.


After completing the song, my father noticed a change in Moishele’s demeanor. He was in another world, a sad expression clearly visible. And so my father prepared to sing a more upbeat niggun. But before he could begin, Moishele asked that they sing Reb Zlotchever’s niggun gain. Upon finishing it, Moishele wanted to repeat the niggun yet again. They continued singing the niggun together over and over.


That Shabbos, while sitting at the table, Moishele began singing. He was singing his father’s beloved niggun.



Baruch Hashem, every day provides us with renewed strength. Life must go on and it is up to Gabi and Rivky’s family to go forward with their special work. We therefore must take it upon ourselves to continue where they left off. Thankfully, they provided us with a great blueprint.

Gabi and Rivky, you gave so much to the world and accomplished so many great things during your relatively brief lives. We promise to avenge your blood. We will do so by continuing your mission: making the world a better place. We will wake up each morning and realize that every second we have on this earth is not just a gift, but a special opportunity for us to make a difference.


I would like to close by asking everyone reading this to take upon yourself one more mitzvah, one more deed, in Gabi and Rivky’s memory. May we merit from this to see the ultimate revelation of goodness in the world with the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.



Rikal Kaler lives in Baltimore with her husband and their daughter Rivky, born nine months after the tragic events in Mumbai.

How Do We Understand That Which Is Unfolding? (Part One)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

As I write these words I am on my way to Toronto for a commemoration of the martyrs of Mumbai. Rabbi Moshe Steiner, the local Chabad Rabbi who organized the program, informed me that Rabbi Holtzberg, the father of Gaby and father-in-law of Rivkah Holtzberg, martyrs of Mumbai, would also be there for the occasion.

Every tragedy evokes its own unique memory… that which comes to my mind when I think of Mumbai is the heart-rending cry of little Moishele: “Eifoh Ima? Where is Mommy? – Eifoh Ima? Where is Mommy?” Perhaps the reason why those piercing words resonate in my heart is because, as a survivor of the Holocaust, they are all too familiar. I heard that cry in the ghettos…I heard it in the cattle cars… I heard it on the long forced marches…. I heard it in Bergen Belsen. And I even heard it when, we crossed the border into Switzerland on our way to the DP camps.

The first act of the Swiss was to delouse us, and in doing so, they separated children from their parents. Terrified that our Holocaust nightmare was once again being re-enacted, my younger brother panicked and cried out in Yiddish, “Mameh, Mameh, Luz zey nisht – Ich vel zein a gitte yingele! Mommy, please don’t let them – I will be a good boy!” I can still hear my brother’s cry.

But more significantly, I hear my mother’s weeping. To her dying day, she tearfully recalled that incident: “Ich vil es kein mohl nisht fargessen – I will never forget it,” she would say again and again. And as she spoke, she would describe my brother’s outstretched hands, piteously pleading. Those years left deep and painful scars on our minds, hearts and souls. Who would have believed that we would be destined to hear that cry again, from of all places, Mumbai, India.

During the past years, I have spoken to Jewish communities on every continent and sadly, I have discovered that anti-Semitism is escalating throughout the world. I see pre-Holocaust Europe all over again, and even as we were caught napping in those ominous days, so too today, we are asleep. We delude ourselves with rationalizations:

“It’s all politics. It’s all about Israel. It has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.”

And we choose to forget that those who would demonize Israel demonize the Jewish people as well. Mumbai is a case in point. What did a Moslem/Hindu conflict have to do with Israel, or for that matter, a Chabad House in faraway India?

If you recall, at the time of the Mumbai massacre, the major world media, CNN, BBC, The New Times, The LA Times, The Washington Post, etc. all spoke in euphemisms when referring to the Islamic terrorists and resorted to generic terms such as “militants” and “freedom fighters” so that they might sanitize Islamic terror. Moreover, they refused to acknowledge the components of Jew hatred that led to the slaughter at the Chabad House.

The apologists, including many of our own people, refused to face reality. They rationalized that the Chabad House was caught in crossfire. They insisted that there was never intent to attack Jews, yet all the evidence proved the contrary. Mumbai was nothing short of a calculated attack on our Jewish people.

Prior to that onslaught, the Chabad House in Mumbai was cased by Islamic terrorists pretending to be Malaysian students who wanted to learn more about Judaism. They were warmly welcomed by Rabbi Gavriel and his wife Rivkah. These terrorists took detailed photographs and made diagrams of every part of the building, indicating that they were there for only one reason – to kill Jews because they were Jews. The lone terrorist who was captured alive openly admitted that they had specific orders to torture and kill Jews.

Indeed, the Indian physician who examined the murdered victims, in a voice wracked with emotion, stated that of all those who were slaughtered, the Jews were subjected to the most barbaric treatment. The Israeli forensic team could not even identify the victims by their faces, but had to rely on DNA tests and dental records. Despite all this however, the international media refused to recognize the Jewish component in this barbaric attack.

Now, it’s one thing if the international community is in denial, but how could Americans fall into this trap? Americans, who experienced first-hand the savage barbarism of 9/11…and more significantly, how could our own Jewish people, who suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of Moslem terrorists, be in such denial?

Who are these Moslem terrorists who, to all intents and purposes, wreak fear and appear to dominate the world?

Time and again, I have emphasized that I never express my own opinions on any subject, for I may be wrong, and I wouldn’t, chas v’shalom, want to mislead anyone. That which I say, that which I write, I always substantiate with a passage from our Torah – “Hafoch bah, hafoch bah, d’kulah bah – Turn the pages, turn the pages, everything is in it.” But to which page should we turn?

Our sages advised that we try to look for the first place the subject is mentioned in the Torah, for the first is always definitive. So let us examine when and where is the first time that we encounter Yishmael, the father of all Arabs?

(To be continued)

Pesach In Thailand

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

                It isn’t often a person from West Bloomfield, Mich., shares a PassoverSeder in Thailand with someone from Sydney, Australia, but that’s exactly what I did this year.

               Newlywed Australian, Rebbecca Saidman, and her husband looked up the nearest Chabad House during their stay in the city of Chiang Mei. “It was really quite incredible and weird to be in Thailand in a place where a Seder was taking place. I have never had a Seder with 350 people,” said Saidman. “The non-judgmental atmosphere, which made everyone feel so welcome, is a huge part of what made this holiday so special for us,” she said.

               This year, the Chabad emissaries in Chiang Mei, Rabbi Moshe Haddad and his family, hosted 350 guests for the first Seder and more than 60 for the second. I was offered the opportunity to come and help.

               Getting to Chiang Mei was an adventure in itself, with stopovers in Germany and Singapore, and finally arriving in Bangkok and the last leg of our journey, a short flight north to the mountain resort.

               I left from New York at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, and arrived at our destination at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Though I came only a day before the festival, there was still plenty of work left to do. One of the major tasks was preparing lettuce for the Seder. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating bugs, and Jewish tradition dictates using lettuce, which can be infested with little white bugs. Lettuce is one of the symbolic foods for the Passover Seder so we had to check more than 2,000 leaves of lettuce to make sure they were bug-free.

               Finally, after a long day of feverish preparations and a Sederthat lasted almost to midnight, we thought we could go to sleep. Then another 20 people showed up who needed a Seder, so we did it all over again. Sleep didn’t become an option until the early hours of the morning.

               There were other adventures and unusual circumstances – some unique to Jewish tradition, some unique to Thailand, and many due to the intersection of cultures.

               This year, Passover and the Thai New Year overlapped, which meant that Jews coming to and from the Chabad House had to navigate their way through Mardi Gras style festivities in the streets. Many of us were doused as revelers happily sprayed each other with water guns during the celebration.

               While we were in Chiang Mei, the King of Thailand’s son decided to take a stroll in the area around the Chabad House. All cars, trucks and tuk tuks – a type of bicycle – were towed away to clear the streets. This happened during Mincha, afternoon prayer service.

                When Chabad guests went outside, they had to search for their bikes. No one understood what had happened. Then it became clear that officials had simply moved everything to the side to clear the area for the prince and his entourage.

               Unfortunately, not everything happening in Thailand these days is so festive. As I left during the intermediate days of Passover, there was rioting in the capital city, Bangkok. Many governments issued warnings to their citizens traveling in Southeast Asia. The Chabad Houses urged visitors to call home and let their families know that they were safe. It is one of the many services Chabad in Thailand has grown accustomed to providing for Jewish travelers. Chana Kroll contributed to this article.

Pesach In Thailand

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

                It isn’t often a person from West Bloomfield, Mich., shares a PassoverSeder in Thailand with someone from Sydney, Australia, but that’s exactly what I did this year.


               Newlywed Australian, Rebbecca Saidman, and her husband looked up the nearest Chabad House during their stay in the city of Chiang Mei. “It was really quite incredible and weird to be in Thailand in a place where a Seder was taking place. I have never had a Seder with 350 people,” said Saidman. “The non-judgmental atmosphere, which made everyone feel so welcome, is a huge part of what made this holiday so special for us,” she said.


               This year, the Chabad emissaries in Chiang Mei, Rabbi Moshe Haddad and his family, hosted 350 guests for the first Seder and more than 60 for the second. I was offered the opportunity to come and help.


               Getting to Chiang Mei was an adventure in itself, with stopovers in Germany and Singapore, and finally arriving in Bangkok and the last leg of our journey, a short flight north to the mountain resort.


               I left from New York at 4:00 p.m. Sunday, and arrived at our destination at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Though I came only a day before the festival, there was still plenty of work left to do. One of the major tasks was preparing lettuce for the Seder. Jewish dietary laws forbid eating bugs, and Jewish tradition dictates using lettuce, which can be infested with little white bugs. Lettuce is one of the symbolic foods for the Passover Seder so we had to check more than 2,000 leaves of lettuce to make sure they were bug-free.


               Finally, after a long day of feverish preparations and a Sederthat lasted almost to midnight, we thought we could go to sleep. Then another 20 people showed up who needed a Seder, so we did it all over again. Sleep didn’t become an option until the early hours of the morning.


               There were other adventures and unusual circumstances – some unique to Jewish tradition, some unique to Thailand, and many due to the intersection of cultures.


               This year, Passover and the Thai New Year overlapped, which meant that Jews coming to and from the Chabad House had to navigate their way through Mardi Gras style festivities in the streets. Many of us were doused as revelers happily sprayed each other with water guns during the celebration.


               While we were in Chiang Mei, the King of Thailand’s son decided to take a stroll in the area around the Chabad House. All cars, trucks and tuk tuks – a type of bicycle – were towed away to clear the streets. This happened during Mincha, afternoon prayer service.


                When Chabad guests went outside, they had to search for their bikes. No one understood what had happened. Then it became clear that officials had simply moved everything to the side to clear the area for the prince and his entourage.


               Unfortunately, not everything happening in Thailand these days is so festive. As I left during the intermediate days of Passover, there was rioting in the capital city, Bangkok. Many governments issued warnings to their citizens traveling in Southeast Asia. The Chabad Houses urged visitors to call home and let their families know that they were safe. It is one of the many services Chabad in Thailand has grown accustomed to providing for Jewish travelers.
 
Chana Kroll contributed to this article.

The Mikveh For Men

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

I attend a Tanya shiur (lesson) every Sunday evening at the Chabad House of Queens. At 9:30 p.m., we daven Maariv.

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving to go home, I happened to notice the many volumes of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Igrot Kodesh (letters written by the Lubavitcher Rebbe). I picked out a volume at random and opened it. I asked an elderly Lubavitcher man there to read to me the Rebbe’s letter.

The letter was dated June 5, 1984. It was written to a Chassid regarding the importance building mikvehs for every community. The Rebbe explained the measurements of the mikveh and spoke about how one should concentrate on the mitzvah of mikveh while immersing.

The elderly Lubavitcher looked at me and asked, “What do you have to do with mikvehs?”

I told him that I usually do not immerse in a mikveh. I closed the book, put it back on the shelf, and went home.

On Friday mornings, I usually daven at the 7:30 a.m. minyan at the Young Israel of Hillcrest. On my way out, my wife asked me not to forget to buy the challahs for Shabbat. That morning, I happened to take a different route to buy the challahs. As I drove past the community mikveh, I suddenly remembered that about five months before, my wife had given me several new dishes to tovel (immerse) in the mikveh. They had been in the trunk of the car all this time.

I parked the car, took the dishes and proceeded to the dish mikveh. I said the blessing, immersed the dishes, and packed up, preparing to leave. As I was leaving, I happened to glance at the men’s mikveh on the other side of the building. The water was crystal clear and I could smell the freshness of the towels near the wall.

I suddenly felt the urge to stay and immerse in the mikveh. The experience was exhilarating, holy, and uplifting.

Afterwards, I went on to shop for the challahs and drove home.

Since then, I frequent the mikvah at every opportunity I get – thanks to that evening when I picked up the Rebbe’s Igros and my soul became bound up with the mitzvah of mikveh!

May we all continue to learn Torah and observe mitzvot till the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.

What Will It Take For Us To Get It?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Those of you who have been following my column and those of you who have read my books, especially Life Is A Test, know that in the closing chapters, I focus on Acharit HaYamim – the days that will precede our Redemption, known as Chevlei Moshiach – the birth pangs that will herald the coming of Messiah. If you are familiar with those prophecies, there is nothing astonishing about that which has befallen us in Mumbai and the world at large. It has all been predicted thousands of years ago, and I spelled it all out in Life Is A Test.

But that which we are doing to ourselves in Eretz Yisrael – attacking our own people and protecting those who are sworn to annihilate us, is beyond words, although that too has been predicted. Nevertheless, the pain is too great to bear.

I have written and said many times in my lectures that it is pointless to ask “why” because there are no clear answers to “why.” “Why” can only lead to bitterness, cynicism, and depression. In Lashon HaKodesh – the Holy Tongue, however, everything takes on a different dimension, for in the Holy Tongue, every word is definitive. In Lashon HaKodesh, not only can we ask “why,” but we must ask “why.” There are two words in Hebrew that are translated into the vernacular as “why” – “madua” and “lamah.”

Madua literally means “Mah Dei’ah – What do we learn from this?” How do we grow from this? What wisdom can we glean from this? And “Lamah” means “L’ mah” – To what end?” What is the ultimate goal, the higher purpose? So what can we learn from the two tragedies that have befallen our people? What lessons can we imbibe that can protect us in the future? And specifically, what can we learn from Mumbai and Chevron?

If you recall, during the presidential campaign, I mentioned in one of my columns that I found it curious that not one of the candidates, in the course of their many debates and discussions, ever referred to Islamic terrorists. It appears that that term was politically incorrect. This was all the more difficult to understand since we in America have had first-hand experience with their satanic savagery. On 9/11, we tasted their brutality and the carnage that they were capable of inflicting, and yet, strangely enough, we have forgotten who was actually responsible for that day of infamy.

In Israel, acts of terror are daily fare – they are not new phenomena, but unfortunately, have been going on for years. And I am not just referring to Sderot, Gaza and the Golan, but to Yerushalayim, Tel Aviv, Netanya, and all the cities and villages of Israel. Carnage has taken place everywhere, on buses, trains, streets, shopping centers and schools. No one has been spared. These attacks have become so commonplace that they don’t even make the news anymore. The world rationalizes it away by placing the onus of responsibility on Israel rather than on the Islamic terrorists.

Israel has been demonized and held accountable for Islamic savagery, and amazingly, the Leftist Israeli Government and media have also bought these lies. Even as the present lame-duck prime minister prepares to leave office, he continues to wreak havoc -to release from prison vicious killers that slaughtered our people – killers who have only one agenda – to annihilate Jews. The IDF is commanded to exercise restraint even as rockets rain down on Israel; Shalit remains in captivity. Yet the Israeli Government opts to send money to Gaza to relieve the financial crisis, and as if this were not enough, Olmert and his cohorts keep offering to give away even more land. As far as he and his colleagues are concerned, Chevron was only the beginning!

Never in the annals of history has a sovereign government uprooted its own people and given away their homes and their land to those who are sworn to kill, exterminate and annihilate her citizens, and yet, not only has Israel done just that, but is continuing on this suicidal course.

But sadly that which has been unfolding in Israel has not awakened anyone to the jeopardy into which we have been placed and continue to place ourselves.

But Mumbai is different. The massacre in Mumbai cannot be blamed on the “Zionist devils” – for this carnage, there can be no rationalization to hold Israel accountable. This time even the most leftist, liberal multiculturalists would find it difficult to lay the blame at Israel’s feet. And yet, the world media, including ours here in the United States, still refuses to get it, and worse, most of our people don’t get it either.

CNN, BBC, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, even the psychology guru, Deepak Chopra, all spoke in euphemisms when referring to the Islamic terrorist slaughter in Mumbai. Euphemisms that have positive connotations, like “militants” and other generic terms that sanitize the evil of Islamic terror. Not only do these euphemisms fail to identify the true nature of the danger they represent, but more pointedly, they refuse to acknowledge the component of Jew hatred that led to the slaughter at the Chabad House.

Just consider for a moment – how does a little Jewish Chabad house in India become the target in an India-Pakistan/Muslim-Hindu conflict? The Chabad House had been cased by Islamic terrorists pretending to be Malaysian students, who wanted to learn more about Judaism, and were given warm hospitality by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg. They had photographs and diagrams of every part of the building, and were there for only one reason – to kill Jews because they were Jews.

The Indian physician who examined the dead stated in a voice wracked with emotion that of all the victims, the greatest torture was inflicted on the Jews. Their bodies showed that they had endured terrible pain and suffering before they were brutally murdered. The Israeli forensic team could not identify the victims by their faces, but had to rely on DNA tests and dental records to identify them, for the torture that they had endured was barbaric. The one live captured terrorist, openly admitted that they were under specific orders to torture and kill the Jews. And yet, despite all this, the international media does not admit to the Jewish character of the attack – or that the Chabad House was intentionally targeted.

All of this takes me back to the days of the Holocaust, when the media reported on the Nazi invasion and takeover of Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, etc., but somehow failed to report the annihilation of European Jewry, or passed over it as an insignificant sidebar. And yet we have learned nothing.

During the past weeks, the parshiot that we read are from Sefer Bereishis. Each parshah is instructive and speaks to us, for the stories of our patriarchs and matriarchs are not “Bible stories.” Everything that they experienced was meant as a sign for us, their children: “Ma’aseh Avos, siman l’banim.” In Parshas Vayishlach, it is written “VaYivaser Yaakov levado” – Jacob found himself alone in the darkness, and he had to struggle with the forces of evil until the sun rose…” teaching us that we, the Jewish people, will always find ourselves alone in the darkness of our Exile. And no nation will come to our aid, so we will always have to struggle, and that struggle will continue until the sun rises and Messiah comes. And now, we have entered that period.

What we are witnessing today are the painful birth pangs of the final days, although sadly, we do not comprehend it. We are frightened and terrified, but we do not see the Hand of G-d.

It has been foretold that, during that time, Ishmael [Islamic jihadists] will inflict the most savage, brutal acts upon our people and terrorize the entire world. And this nightmare will be accompanied by other horrific events – natural disasters, terrible illnesses, disease, and unprecedented chutzpah – the collapse of our cherished icons.

If, just a year ago, someone had told us that the giants of finance and industry would disappear before our very eyes, and our government would be ridden with corruption and chaos, we would have ridiculed them and labeled them delusional. Yet it is occurring before our very eyes, and we don’t get it.

On his deathbed, our patriarch Jacob called out to his sons and asked them to gather as one so he might relate to them that which would befall them at the end of days. But, we are told, the Ruach HaKodesh left him and he could go no further. Our Sages offer many explanations for

this. Recently, I heard an esteemed rav explain that the Hebrew word “Yikra,” which is translated as “will happen,” should have been spelled with a “Heh” but the word is written with the letter “Aleph” which means “call”…. teaching us that we will be deaf to the Call of G-d.

And that explains the silence of Jacob, for that is what will happen to us – we too, will be silent. Terror and bedlam continue and we refuse to understand. There is only one solution to our dilemma, and that is “Ein Od Milvado” – to understand that our help can only come from G-d, but we remain deaf to His Call and blind to His guiding Hand.

But, and this is the big but – we need not fear, for all negative prophecies can be changed. We need only heed G-d’s Call, and overnight we can change our destiny. One of the reasons why at the Minchah Yom Kippur service we read the story of the prophet Jonah, which relates that the city of Nineveh was doomed because of its many sins, but it heeded the call of the prophet and in a split- second changed darkness into light and destruction into life. We can and must do the same. We need only proclaim “Ein Od Milvado! – There is no one but Hashem to help us.” But what, exactly, does that mean?

It has all been written, and please G-d, in ensuing columns, I will begin spelling it out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/rebbetzins-viewpointrebbetzin-jungreis/what-will-it-take-for-us-to-get-it/2008/12/17/

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