Kol ha-o-lam ku-lo gesher tzar me’od
V’ha-i-kar lo l’fached klal
The whole world is a very narrow bridge;
the important thing is not to be afraid.
-Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav
What does your Rabbi say to you in light of recent massacres in our precious world? You have politicians and journalists – and let’s not forget FaceBook – all eager to tell us what to think and how to react to the horror that has befallen our precious world. Paris was not the only city under siege; during the same week there were killings of innocents in Kenya, Lebanon, and Israel as well.
Committing these atrocities are extremist Islamic terror organizations. Their objective is worldwide dominance, with the absence of the West and western ideas, a world without Jews and without tolerance for any other religion including Christianity. They are called ISIS, the Islamic State, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaida, Muslim Brotherhood – different names but they are all related, funded by Iran, Qatar, and other extremists. In more than 100 countries the victims are Christians. They are part of the refugee group that is fleeing Syria, driven out of Mosul, removed from Afghanistan, butchered, beheaded and terrorized elsewhere.
We must realize this is not the work of faithful Muslims, for they are the victims, perhaps most of all. “Hundreds of Muslims are dying daily, 90 per cent at the hands of fellow Muslims. Bahais, Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs have all suffered their own tragedies. Yazidis are on the brink of the abyss.” (Rabbi Jonathan Sacks)
Which brings us to the issue of refugees. In my opinion we must not, cannot, close our doors to the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse…” (Emma Lazarus, poem on the Statue of Liberty) As Jews, we know better than anyone what it is like to be exiled or to try to take refuge from a persecuting country, only to have the metaphoric doors shut in our faces by nations of the world. If fear causes us to act inhuman, the extremist murderers have won.
Take comfort in knowing, as I am convinced, that the 18-24 month tedious vetting process refugees must endure to enter this country will only be made more difficult, in light of the Paris massacre. Who are these refugees? They are people, families, who are trying to escape the very extremists who attacked Paris.
The Chassidic master Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlov said, “All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to fear at all.” But, Rebbe Nachman, I would ask: how do we conquer our fear? I imagine Rebbe Nachman answering me, b’col zote, in spite of all this, we must find the opening in our hearts for the Light of the Divine to help us maintain our faith in the future.
May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace,
Rabbi Debbie Israel