Saturday, November 29, 2008

Don’t forget — we are at war

As Jews, we cannot be angry. “Someone who is angry is like an idolater”, Talmud tells us. We know that everything is controlled by Hashem, and even though we cannot explain everything, we trust Him to control all events. Something evil is but a concealment of His Light.

But we live in a physical reality, and it is our job to shape it and do our best to make things better. Usually this is done with rationality and positive emotions. But sometimes negative emotions — like anger — are necessary to help us in our fight.

On Shabbos, I was talking to my rabbi. He said: “What can you do when eight men with AK-47’s run into your house? We can’t ask, ‘What can we do?’ on the physical level when things are already happening. We need to prevent these things from happening.”

On the spiritual level, we need to recognize that the source of all evil in the world is Concealment of Hashem’s Face. We are in control of how much Divine Light is visible in this world — we increase its flow with our mitzvos, with our unconditional love to fellow Jews, with our oneness. This is our priority in this world, this is what we must focus on in our lives. But we should not be like a Jew (in a joke) who was waiting for G-d to save him from a flood and ignored a boat, a helicopter, etc. (which he should have recognized as physical manifestations of G-d’s help). When we have opportunity to protect ourselves, we need to take it.

On the physical level, we need to recognize that we are in a war. A war, with Western Civilization built on innovation in morality that Judaism brought into the world on one side and a civilization that worships death on the other. The way you can help in everyday life is to support our side in this war. Don’t ignore protests against war on terror — argue with them. Don’t silently agree with liberals who support negotiations with terrorist states. Don’t agree that prisoners in Guantanamo Bay have rights granted by Geneva Convention. No convention ever protected dedicated murderers of innocent people. Terrorists don’t have rights. Animals don’t have rights.

Don’t forget the kedoishim of Mumbai who gave their lives for spreading yiddishkeit and bringing closer Mashiach. Don’t forget a boy, who turned two years old today, after turning an orphan the day before. Don’t forget the rebbetzin, who helped many women physically and spiritually, who was murdered on the night of the raid, whose body was covered by talles of her husband. Don’t forget the rabbi, who was a teacher, a mohel, a shoichet and a friend to many Jews who came through India. Don’t forget all the other Jews who were murdered on that day: Rabbi Bentzion, a mashgiach who went to Chabad House to daven, Rabbi Teitelbaum, son of Volover Rebbe and son-in-law of Toldos Avroham Yitzchok Rebbe, and Israeli tourists (both in Chabad House and hotels).

Keep them in your memory. Keep these pictures in your memory.
It appears that Rebbitzin Rivka HY”D was killed the first night of the attack based on the state of her body when it was recovered on erev Shabbos, referring to rigor mortis. The body was covered with a tallis when rescuers arrived, which we presume was done by the rav, whose body was found on a different floor. Rav Gavriel Noach HY”D appears to have been murdered shortly before the event ended. ZAKA volunteers reported his body was still warm when they received it from local officials on erev Shabbos.

• The body of Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum HY”D was found in the library slumped over a open Gemara Brochos.

• The bodies of two females HY”D were found with telephone cord wrapped around them.

• The body of R’ Bentzion Chroman HY”D was brought by local authorities to ZAKA at the entrance to the Chabad House. All they know is that he was murdered on the 5th floor.

• Terrorists placed booby traps and hand grenades in the hands of the victims, making their identification and evacuation significantly more dangerous and complicated.

• A local physician who knew the Holtzbergs assisted in identifying their bodies. He appears to be working with ZAKA as they try to prevent autopsies.

• ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi-Zahav remains in constant touch with Maran HaRav Elyashiv Shlita as he did erev Shabbos pertaining to the many questions, which included how and when to notify the Toldos Avraham Yitzchak Rebbe Shlita.

• Shabbos was the second birthday of Moishele Holtzberg, who no longer has parents to celebrate the day with him. May HaKadosh Baruch Hu give him the strength he will require during this difficult period, along with his grandparents, the entire family and the extended family of Chabad shlichim worldwide.

• According to a Kol Chai Radio report on Motzei Shabbos, the entire five-story building that housed the Chabad House was trashed. “There was not a room that was not destroyed. Every book in the library was ransacked and items thrown around. The entire building was destroyed. The only thing that remained untouched was a picture in a glass frame of the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT”L on a wall in the library.”

• Shimon Grossman, a member of the ZAKA team in Mumbai and a relative of Rivka Holtzman reports dealing with the removal of the bodies is extremely difficult due to the fact the building and bodies are booby trapped. He also reports authorities are insisting on performing autopsies but they continue efforts to prevent them. [Indian authorities agreed not to do autopsies, according to an updated news report.]

Don’t forget.

As Jews, we should respect all life, in all of its expressions. But we cannot respect death. A terrorist is already dead, whatever his biological state. A person who believes in a religion of death is already dead. Someone who supports them supports death and does not deserve life. When a supporter of death also dies, it is a collateral damage we cannot be sorry for (and don’t say that the victims of terror are collateral damage too — they are the targets of those acts, not just “bystanders”).

We have no respect, no mercy, no pity for death. On the spiritual level, we need to bring light into it and turn it into life. On the physical level, we have to destroy it, support those who are destroying it at the moment and fights against those who oppose this destruction.

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