web analytics
September 15, 2014 / 20 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad House’

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.

Chabad In A Dangerous World

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

A few months ago, Channel 8 (Israel’s equivalent of PBS) broadcast a fascinating “reality” program on the life and times of a young Lubavitcher couple that went on shlichut to Vietnam in order to open a Chabad branch in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). During the past few years Vietnam has become a growing destination for both Israeli and American Jewish businessmen, as well as for post- army, backpacking and thrill-seeking young Israelis

The mission highlighted the young couple’s “fish out of water” experience, trying to build an oasis of Judaism under the watchful anti-religious eyes of the Communist regime. In this case, the element of danger wasn’t from Islamic fanatics but from a philosophy that had defeated American military prowess over 35 years earlier.

The dangers associated with opening a Chabad House in Ho Chi Minh City didn’t deter the enthusiastic couple from building a new life in a strange land. Shipments of kosher foodstuffs and religious articles from Eretz Yisrael would cushion the blow of being so far away from a Jewish environment. The young couple and their guests would at least be able to enjoy a heimishe meal cooked by the “rebbetzin,” providing a palate-pleasing reminder of home.

The initial adjustment for the young couple was not easy – but Chabadniks persevere. There are no such words as “giving up” in the Chabad dictionary.

In order to stretch their kosher food without always relying on the parcel from Israel, the young couple made their way through the aisles of local supermarkets searching high and low for products bearing a legitimate hechsher (kosher certification). At the local fish market the young rabbi diligently checked various species of fish, looking for the telltale kosher signs of fins and scales.

All in all, a great story about how adventurous young Chabad couples are willing to go anywhere on the planet in order to perform the mitzvot of hachnasat orchim and kiruv rechokim.

No one but Chabad has worked so diligently to provide a way station for Jews on and off the derech. Tens of thousands of secular Israelis have had their pintele yid rekindled by a simple act of kindness performed by smiling young Chabad couples that are always available with an open door policy. These couples represent the essence of what Yiddishkeit is all about.

Unfortunately the world has become a dangerous place – even for friendly Chabadnikim. Jewish businessmen and Israeli adventure-seekers need to start rethinking about where to do business and how to keep an extremely low profile when trekking through Third World countries.

As we went to press, Israeli security personnel warned Chabad officials in Israel and the U.S. to start revamping their global operations. The Israeli officials instructed Chabad to lower their profiles in countries where the dangers of terror attacks are high, and hire armed security guards to provide around-the-clock protection for each Chabad House. (There are at least two other Chabad Houses in India, scene of last week’s terror attack. One is in New Delhi and the other in Goa, the coastal  “Pearl of the Orient,” where so many young Israelis tend to enjoy running amok, i.e. drug use, illicit behavior and, tragically, acts of avodah zarah.)

On many occasions, Chabad officials in places like Goa are either working hard to lure Israelis away from toxic substances or getting them out of jail. They will do almost anything to rescue a meandering neshamah.

Israeli entrepreneurs trying to make a quick buck from the thousands of Hebrew-speaking “landsman” who visit Goa and Bangkok, Thailand have opened stores featuring large Hebrew-language signs. Thailand, already enmeshed in political anarchy, is also trying to beat back an armed Islamic insurrection in one of its provinces. It is likely that the Thai Islamists will try to copy the Mumbai massacre on some scale in the near future – sowing fear and hatred.

The Jewish people tend to sometimes forget that they are in the midst of a global jihad, where interlocking Islamic terror groups are constantly monitoring our activities. One day it can be Al Qaeda in lower Manhattan, another day it could be Hizbullah in Argentina, a Pakistani terror group in Mumbai, Hamas in Jerusalem It’s a never-ending list.

The mitzvah to enjoy life and experience the wonders of the world must also be balanced out against the inherent dangers that lurk just around the corner. There will always be a need for a Chabad oasis somewhere in the world. The blessing of their holy work must be buttressed by physical as well as spiritual security.

Love The Victims, Loathe Their Killers

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

All terrorism is monstrous, but the murder in India of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg stands out for its unspeakable infamy. The deliberate targeting of a small Jewish center and its married young directors, whose only purpose was to provide for the religious needs of a community and feed travelers, proves that those who perpetrated this crime are bereft not only of even a hint of humanity, but every shred of faith as well.

The world’s most aggressive atheists are more religious than these spiritual charlatans and pious frauds. When Osama bin Laden, whose beard masks the face of the ultimate religious hypocrite, attacked the World Trade Center, the target was purportedly chosen as the very symbol of American materialism and excess.

But what could these “religious” people have been thinking in exterminating a twenty-something couple with two babies who moved from the world’s richest country to India to provide religious services and faith to the poor and needy? What blow against Western decadence were they striking by targeting a Chabad House – the entire purpose of which is to spread spirituality to people whose lives lack it?

Now is not only a time to remember the victims, but to hate their killers. One cannot love the innocent without simultaneously loathing those who orphan their children.

I know how uncomfortable people feel about hatred. It smacks of revenge. It poisons the heart of those who hate. But this is true only if we hate the good, the innocent, or the neutral. Hating monsters, however, motivates us to fight them. Only if an act like this repulses us to our core will we summon the will to fight these devils so that they can never murder again.

I am well aware that Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” But surely the great man never meant for this to apply to people like Hitler who was never going to be stopped by love but only by an eloquent loathing as articulated by Winston Churchill.

Indeed, had King’s non-violent movement not been protected, at crucial times, by Federal marshals and the National Guard, the terrorist thugs of the Ku Klux Klan might have killed every last one of them.

As for my Christian brethren who regularly quote to me Jesus’s famous saying, “Love your enemies,” my response is that our enemies and God’s enemies are different parties altogether. To love those who indiscriminately murder God’s children is an abomination against all that is sacred.

Is there a man whose heart is not filled with moral revulsion against terrorists who target a rabbi who feeds the hungry? Would God ask me to extend even one morsel of my limited capacity for compassion to fiends rather than saving every last particle for their victims instead? Could God really be so unreasonable as to ask me to love baby-killers? And would such a God be moral if He did?

Could I pray to a God who loves terrorists? Could I find comfort in Him knowing that He offers them comfort as well? No, such a “god” would be my enemy. And I would be damned before I would worship him. I will accept an eternity in purgatory rather than a moment of celestial bliss shared with these beasts.

Now is the time for Muslim clerics to rise in chorus and condemn the repulsive assassins who use Islam to justify their hatred.

One such courageous imam, and one of the North America’s most prominent, is my friend Imam Shabir Ali of Toronto who responded to my call with a public statement the day after the murders:

“Such terrorist attacks are not justifiable on any grounds. Islam cannot condone such murder of innocent civilians . Islam is built on the monotheist foundations which the Jewish people struggled for many centuries to maintain in the face of much severe opposition. Muslims and Jews should work together for a better world in which the terrorist acts we have seen in Mumbai this week are a thing of the past. I pray that the perpetrators will be brought to justice, and that the Lord with compensate the victims with a handsome reward in this world and the next.”

I suggest the best possible response by the world Jewish community to this travesty is to implement a program of a Jewish peace corps to Chabad Houses the world over. Young people, especially students ages 16 to 30, should offer to spend two weeks each summer volunteering for a Chabad House somewhere in the world to help the emissaries with their very difficult and important work. This past summer three of my teen children volunteered to work for Chabad in Cordova, Argentina, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives.

Finally, the world witnessed how the Holtzbergs’ non-Jewish nanny, Sandra Samuels, saved their two-year-old Moshe’s life, running out with the child while risking being mowed down by machine-gun fire. In that instant, we saw how religious differences pale beside the fact that all of us are equally God’s children and how acts of courage and compassion are that which unite us.

As I write these lines, the State of Israel is being lobbied by the Holtzberg family to grant Ms. Samuels immediate citizenship. A hero of her caliber would be an honor to the Jewish state and the request should not be delayed by even a single day.


Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is founder of This World: The Jewish Values Network. His daily national radio show on “Oprah and Friends” can now be heard on Sirius 195 as well as XM 156.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/love-the-victims-loathe-their-killers/2008/12/03/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: