Monday, December 01, 2008

What is our response to the massacre?

A response to the question "why?"

Dear Rabbi Freeman,

I can't handle this. Here's a young couple with a small child who left their families to live in a strange land, just for the sake of helping build the Jewish community there. You know how many kids they saved from drugs and from prison? This is their reward? This is the protection G‑d gives them?

--S

Dear S,

We're all in pain. We're all stunned. But you are asking questions you know you cannot answer. Why? How will that help anyone? What we need now is strength and courage. What we need now is to regather our forces and to rebuild.

We knew beforehand that we are at war with an enemy. We knew that the world needs to be healed, that it oozes with a venomous darkness, and that darkness will not sit passively as we steal away its dominion. We knew that the more we fight this darkness, the harder it will fight back. We didn't fool ourselves. We decided we will fight and we will win. That is why Gavriel and Rivky went where they went. They went not as tourists, but as fearless soldiers.

Once you are at war, you don't stop to ponder all over again—can we win? Is this worth it? Maybe they're worse than we thought? That's deadly. If you would rather stay home and enjoy comfort while the rest of the world sits out in the cold, you should have decided that a long time ago. Now you are out there on the field of battle, you have already awakened the bear from its den, now there is no turning back.

They are darkness. We are light. They storm the shores with death in their eyes. We come to teach compassion and acts of beauty. They carry assault rifles and grenades. We carry candles for Friday night, a Torah of wisdom, joy and beauty.

Are we to surrender before them? Are we to stop and cry and ask, "maybe we're fighting the wrong battle"?

On the Shabbat that we confirmed our worst fears, Chabad held a Shabbaton for over 40 people in Mumbai. A Chabad rabbi of another city in India came to host the event. We will not abandon the 5,000 Jews of Mumbai, nor the constant flow of Israeli backpackers needing guidance on their journey--we will work even harder now on their behalf. We will revenge the work of violence by doubling and quadrupling our works of peace and love. We will fill the world with light and wisdom and the spirit of darkness in men's hearts shall forever perish. They come with their guns and their might, with a god of destruction and terror, but we come in the name of the Eternal, the source of all life and healing. They and all memory of them will vanish from the face of the earth and our lamp will burn forever.

May the Almighty G‑d hear the cry of their blood from the earth and put an end to all sorrow. May it be very soon, sooner than we can imagine.

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