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Rabbi Zalmanov's Blog

This Blog constitutes primarily of articles written by Rabbi Eliezer Zalmanov in various publications.

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The Jewish Response

Yesterday’s horrifying events at a Jerusalem Yeshivah — where 8 students were murdered in cold blood and scores injured — brought to mind a similar, no less dreadful event, nearly 52 years ago.

The state of Israel was in its infancy, and the village of Kefar Chabad was also in its early stages of development. In a school created for immigrant and refugee children, a class was beginning Maariv, the evening prayer. Suddenly a group of terrorists burst though the door and began spraying bullets at the room’s occupants. Five students and a teacher died that night, their prayer books soaked in their own blood.

Understandably, residents of the village were shell shocked. Unsure of how to proceed, they turned to the Lubavitcher Rebbe for guidance, and four days following the horrors a telegram arrived from New York. The entire village gathered in the synagogue to hear the Rebbe’s encouraging words.

The telegram contained a three word sentence: “Behemshech Habinyan Tinacheimu” (“by continuing to build, you will be comforted”). The Rebbe’s message was clear; the attack should not lead to decreased activity in the development of Kefar Chabad. Rather it should be the impetus for continued growth.

Quite by Divine Providence, my earlier post focused on the persevering quality of the Jewish people; on how, despite all that occurs, Jerusalem and the entire Land of Israel is continuously being developed and built.

Given yesterday’s attack on innocent Yeshivah students, I will take that notion one step further.

"Building" and "construction" can also be used to describe one's spiritual growth. When we do a Mitzvah, we strengthen our connection with G-d, and we build our relationship with Him. The more we do, the stronger the bond.

The Jewish response to yesterday’s attack should be one of growth. Performing a Mitzvah in memory of the deceased, praying in honor of the wounded, and generally going about our lives the way G-d expects us to, is how we show the world that we will not be negatively affected by violence. With every additional good deed we perform, the more evident this becomes.

We answer darkness with light; and the more light we bring to the world, the less darkness there will be to impede our growth. And by continuously growing, we will truly be comforted.

Israel

Chanie and I recently returned from a trip to Israel. Our trip was unique in that we both haven’t been to the Holy Land in nearly seven years, and this was our first trip there together.

Both of us had spent a number of years in Israel in the past, so in planning this trip we decided that we would not do any touring. Instead, we’d spend most of our time in Jerusalem. The primary purpose of this trip was for a relative’s wedding, which was held in Kefar Chabad, a small town outside of Tel Aviv. Aside for the wedding, we remained in Jerusalem for our entire stay.

Our days began with a trek to the Western Wall for Shacharit, the morning prayers. On the return trip, we would stop at a café or bagel shop for brunch. We generally spent the remainder of our days strolling through the city, taking in the sites and sounds of the Jewish capital’s daily routine.

Wherever we went, people were going about their business as usual. The outdoor marketplaces and malls are as busy as ever, and the economy is doing quite well. Cranes and scaffolding are visible from everywhere, as construction projects are going up all around Jerusalem, as well as other parts of the country. Luxury residences, hotels, and shopping malls are just some of the current projects set to be completed in the near future.

To be sure, the cloud of terrorism still hovers over all this. There are daily reports of Kassam rockets shelling the town of Sderot and other cities neighboring Gaza. And the constant talk of dividing the city of Jerusalem yet again doesn’t add much encouragement either. But our Israeli brethren are aware that curbing their daily activities is to give the terrorists the victory they so desire. Life in Israel goes on because that is what the Jewish people do best; we persevere.

The Jewish people have lived through persecution and threats of extinction as long as we’ve been a people. This has never impeded upon our drive to exist. We have always remained steadfast in our beliefs, and by continuing to do so, we are guaranteed to outlive all who wish us harm.

I encourage everyone to make a trip to Israel, and experience for yourselves the wonderful land G-d has given to the Jewish people as our eternal inheritance.

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