Groups Rally Against Gaza Offensive In Front Of Israeli Consulate
Love Vs. Hate
After the Mumbai jihad exactly one month ago, we were moved by a call from all segments of world Jewry and beyond to do more good deeds. The Chabad movement -- the group that had its emissaries sadistically tortured to death in the Chabad House of Mumbai – like other Jewish organizations, called on people to increase in acts of goodness and kindness, to do more mitzvos (sacred deeds), to saturate the world with love and holiness. I attended at least a dozen memorial services for the murdered victims; all of them encouraged the participants to combat violence through positive deeds.
Chabad’s official website created a special section where people are invited to embrace a new mitzvah in tribute of the innocent victims of Mumbai. Close to 11,000 people joined the initiative (Click here to join.)
And at the heart wrenching funeral of Gabi and Rivkah Holtzberg, the Chabad ambassadors murdered in Mumbai, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarski, vice-chairman of Chabad’s international educational arm, declared in a voice choked with tears and resolve, that Chabad would fight back the terrorists not with tanks and missiles, but by spreading goodness around the world, by constructing more centers dedicated to spread light to dispel darkness.
These noble responses echoed the wisdom of the legendary spiritual leader of Chabad, the Lubavitcher Rebbe (1902-1994), who always taught that each mitzvah affects the world in a powerfully positive way. “The world is in balance,” the Rebbe often quoted the Talmudic passage, “and each mitzvah can tip the scale” becoming the “tipping point” which may transform the consciousness of humanity.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe frequently articulated the timeless Jewish message that since G-d is the master of the world and all security ultimately depends upon Him, each act which increases our connection to G-d, creates a channel for deeper divine blessings and protection. What allowed the Jews to survive through millennia of savage persecution was not military might alone (other Empires had much more of that), but their commitment and dedication to G-d, His Torah and His Mitzvos.
The Rebbe also taught that we must turn tears into catalysts for renewed action, and use pain as a spring board for rejuvenation. And he would often write that there is no greater joy to souls who were taken from us than the fact that their lives and deaths inspire so much goodness in our world.
Finally, the Lubavitcher Rebbe firmly believed in the ancient Jewish principle, one of the recurring messages in the Hebrew Bible, that the fate of history lay not only with governments and various global forces, but also with individuals who dare to choose the path of courage and moral clarity even in the face of adversity. The story of Moses, for example, is the story of a single moral choice made by a single individual (Pharaoh’s daughter) at a single moment. The initiative, then, to change the world begins in our own bedrooms. When you kindle a flame on your porch, the Rebbe once said, the laws of physics – and the laws of spiritual physics – dictate that the light you kindled traverses the globe.
The call to respond to the senseless act of hate perpetrated in Mumbai through engaging in “selfless love,” as one writer put it, is thus both profoundly important and inspiring.
When Love Is Insufficient
But it is not enough.
During such painful times – when terror has reared its ugly head again in Israel and the world over -- it is equally important to articulate another message the Lubavitcher Rebbe discussed very often, namely, that love and good deeds alone are often insufficient to combat terrorists.
Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, tortured to death in India, were the epitome of love. They shared their home and heart with hundreds of strangers each week, giving them food, nurture and affection. Why, then, did the two monsters who entered their private home, violating and murdering everybody in sight, not feel the love and respond in kind?
Because some people are so filled with hate, they are incapable of appreciating love. Concerning such people, the Talmud states(1), “He who comes to kill you, kill him first.” Or in the words of the Midrash(2), “He who shows compassion for the cruel, will end up being cruel to the compassionate.”
If someone had killed the nine terrorists before they captured Mumbai, hundreds of lives would have been saved; hundreds of children – including 2-year-old Moshe Holtzberg – would have parents alive today.
“Violence is never the answer,” many good people belief. But this is both untrue and harmful. When someone wants to kill you and your children, and the only way to stop him is through violence, then violence is the answer, albeit a painful one. It is violence used by police that stops violent criminals from hurting innocent people. There are many innocent people alive today solely because someone used violence to save their lives.
Many Muslims living with us today genuinely believe that the greatest achievement in life is to torture, rape, maim and murder Jews, Israelis and Westerners in the most barbaric and sadistic way possible. Any sign of love and restraint is seen by them not a gesture toward reconciliation, but as a demonstration of weakness, emboldening them to continue their Jihad.
That is why the Israeli complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 did not stop Hamas from daily bombing Israeli civilian areas, attempting to kill as many Jewish babies as possible. The restraint shown by Israel in recent years drove peace away further. Hamas saw it as a demonstration of weakness and as an invitation to pursue their goal to destroy Israel and murder all of its citizens.
Gandhi and Churchill
In 1938, after the Nazis had already carried out the Kristallnacht pogrom, Mahatma Gandhi directed the following words to the Jews of Germany:
“I am as certain as I am dictating these words that the stoniest German heart will melt adopt active non-violence ... I do not despair of his [Hitler’s] responding to human suffering even though caused by him.”
In 1942, Gandhi offered this advice to the British:
“I would like you to lay down the arms you have which are useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions ... If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourself, man, woman and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them(3).”
Where would we be today if the pacifist Gandhi has been the leader of England, not the proponent of moral violence, Winston Churchill?
Hitler was defeated not by love but by war. If Churchill would have embraced Hitler with affection, you and I would not be around today to talk about love.
Learn from Your Body
We have already had a culture respond to Islam with good thoughts alone. Part of Alexander the Great’s army settled down Asia and became Buddhists. They created the Ghandarvian Buddhist culture. The Ghandarvian Greek Buddhists created the first Buddhist art and sculpture. When Islam invaded they had no army, only good thoughts. Alexander the Great’s best soldiers had become absolute pacifists. After the jihad, we do not find a single Buddhist in what is Afghanistan today. Good thoughts and good works are not always enough in the face of violence.
Look at our bodies. Do you think that our immune system just gives those misguided germs a big hug and understanding? No. It kills them. No inter-species dialogue, no being nice. Is that a bad thing? If you think so, then try AIDS, the failure of that viral/bacterial murdering immune system.
The present festival of Chanukah celebrates the miracle of a single cruse of oil to burn for eight days, representing the timeless potential of the human spirit to kindle the flame of love and hope in an oasis of darkness. But what allowed the Jews of the time to kindle the menorah was the war which the Hasmonean family waged against their Syrian-Greek oppressors who tortured thousands of Jews to death. Had the zealous Jews instead sent a bouquet of flowers to Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian Greek ruler, Judaism and the Jewish people would be gone today.
Governments which care about the security of their citizens must thus wage an uncompromising, relentless war to uproot the terrorists and their infrastructure wherever they are. Love will not do the trick with these guys. They must be pursued, hunted down and annihilated. Not because we love war, but because we love the innocent people who will die if we do not take down these monsters.
So keep those mitzvahs coming; love with all your heart, and fill the world with kindness. But remember: Sometimes, the greatest mitzvah is to kill. When immoral violence prevails, moral violence is the answer.
1) Berachos 58a. 2) Koheles Rabah 7:16. 3) Quoted from Think A Second Time, by Dennis Prager, pp. 192-3.