Last December, criminals ran into a Jewish-owned grocery store in Jersey City and killed the Jewish owner, a customer, and a police officer. Last Pesach, a gunman broke into a Chabad House in Poway San Diego and shot to death a Jewish woman who stood in the way of the rabbi she was protecting. These are but two of the many recent attacks against Jews times that were motivated by hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism.
What was the Jewish response? Were there demonstrations, looting, or confrontations with the police? No, no, and no. Were there peaceful protests to proclaim that JLM (Jewish Lives matter)? No.
What did Jewish people do? We grieved, we prayed, and we committed ourselves to making the world better. We supported the bereaved families, we raised money for them, and we renewed our determination to protect our people and to survive. We did not organize protests nor did we blame or harm innocent people.
Interestingly, Mark Twain in 1899 wrote in Harpers Magazine, “The Jew is not a disturber of the peace of any country. Even his enemies will concede that. He is not a loafer, he is not a sot, he is not noisy, he is not a brawler nor a rioter, he is not quarrelsome.”
Later in the same essay he writes, “All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”
The answer, my friends, lies in a Hebrew National hot dog commercial: “We answer to a Higher Authority!” The Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote that the mishnah in Pirke Avot that instructs us to pray for the local government lest “each man swallow up his fellow” is really referring to Hashem. The word “malchus” in the mishnah – which we usually translate as government – only applies to the singular melech, G-d Almighty. It is to Him that we must pray and devote our lives, and it is His divine will that we must follow.
The people protesting are appealing to other people whom they hope will make a change in society. But real change must come from within, which for a Jew means drawing closer to Hashem and the Torah.
The recent protests were initially well-meaning, but they have become uncivilized in too many places. No authentic change can occur amidst such clamber.
We call upon all people of goodwill to fulfill the Biblical dictum to “love your fellow as yourself,” for we are all children of one G-d, the father of mankind. This understanding should give us the direction we need to establish a law-abiding society with the seven universal laws of Noah, which will hasten the coming of Moshiach and usher in a new harmony in the world.