A basic Torah principle is that there are no accidents in this world. Whatever happens, happens for a reason. Throughout your life, G-d will send you messages. The wise person learns from everyone (Pirkei Avos 4:1). Be wise and learn from all the messages that have been sent your way in the past and those that will be sent your way in the future. Every time you see a couple interact it can be educational. Even listening to the way a newly married couple or to an elderly couple speak together in a line at the supermarket can teach you something. At times you will hear a positive way of talking that you can emulate.
At other times, you will hear a negative way of talking that you may find similar to your own. This can be a wake-up call for change.
There are also situations which will enable you to feel fortunate for your own situation. You will gain greater appreciation and gratitude for what you previously might have taken for granted.
Aquarium and life in Dubai.
Rabbi Laibl Wolf (edited by me)
I write with a heavy heart. People are dying. Their deaths caused by the callousness of evil charismatics indoctrinating hate and embedding fears in the hearts of suffering and deprived populations. Evil leaders' lust for power, lust for domination, lust for blood, injecting poisons in distraught minds, broken hearts and corrupted souls. How do compassionate and caring people respond to such cruelty and depravity?
Emotions are tricky business. They often lead us by the nose. We are all easily led and intimidated by the idiot box blaring the smooth voices of illiterate and boorish (if not ulterior-motivated) talking heads. Our hearts bleed in response to doctored, orchestrated, carefully choreographed, instant human tragedy video clips. Talking heads partner ambitious news photographers to stage-manage the best human-interest stories for local consumption 'back home'.
Forget truth. Forget justice. Forget morality. The 'story' is all that counts. If retractions and apologies need to be dished out later in some fine print or throwaway comment on air, who cares? Goebbels wins the day. The big lie is the best lie. And say it often enough and it becomes the new truth. What counts is that the story moved the viewing audience, improved network ratings, and was consistent with the political bias of the network.
So terrorists and media make for perfect bedfellows. Terrorism needs its poison spewed to as wide a viewing audience as possible to recruit sick society drop-outs, and media responds synergistically making media barons richer and ego driven anchor-persons flush with self-pride.
This still begs the question: how can people of principle and truth respond to those who wave the automatic weapons and gracefully fire rockets through the orb of the blue sky bringing down passenger planes or indiscriminately attempting to destroy populous cities?
An answer is provided by the great medieval philosopher and physician, Maimonides, who notes: One should see the world's good and evil poised on pans of an equally balanced cosmic scale, and one positive individual act, tips the scales to the good, thereby saving the world.
You are powerful. You radiate energies of goodness to the farthest reaches of the world. The challenge is to believe in ourselves and not abdicate the important leadership role that sends waves of positive energy to the most distant shores.
Speak with inner strength. Behave assertively. Think strategically. Make personal plans to change in the world
Momentary impulsiveness doesn't cut it. You are a spiritual warrior. Plan. Devise. Create. Execute. Fight terrorism with heroism – the heroism that stems from inner fortitude, conviction and quest for truth.
Don't make the mistake of naivety. A fuzzy warm loving compassionate soul does not a spiritual warrior make. Love includes tough-love. Draw a line in the sand and be prepared to defend it with your whole being. If someone threatens your physical integrity, strength of character and self-esteem demands you defend yourself. Your weaponry of compassion doesn't defend your body. Truth and principle extends to the physical plane of a 'real' world of hurt, pain, and cruelty.
So how do good people respond to a troubled world? With belief in man's innate goodness. With strength of conviction. With a willingness to express leadership qualities – whether in the family, or in community or in society at large. With faith in a benevolent higher power to appeal to. With chosen words and select behaviors.
I challenge you: adopt these characteristics fully for one day. I guarantee you will be witness to actual changes you effect in the world. Test my assertion. Be a spiritual warrior for a day.
The Truth about Gaza
By Charles Krauthamer
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Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.
'Here's the difference between us," explains the Israeli prime minister. 'We're using missile defense to protect our civilians and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles."
Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent "cycle of violence." This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows Hamas' proudly self-declared raison d'etre: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.
Apologists for Hamas attribute the bloodlust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? There is not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli in Gaza. Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling diehard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted it settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians.
There was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.
The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel's desire to leave the West Bank too and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.
And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them – an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.
Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones. They deliberately placed them in schools, hospitals, mosques and private homes to better expose their own civilians. And from which they fire rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Why? The rockets can't even inflict serious damage, being almost uniformly intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system. Even West Bank leader Mahmoud Abbas has asked: "What are you trying to achieve by sending rockets?"
It makes no sense. Unless you understand, as a Washington Post editorial explained, that the whole point is to draw Israeli counterfire.
This produces dead Palestinians for international television. Which is why Hamas perversely urges its own people not to seek safety when Israel drops leaflets warning of an imminent attack.
To deliberately wage war so that your own people can be telegenically killed is indeed moral and tactical insanity. But it rests on a very rational premise: Given the Orwellian state of the world's treatment of Israel (see: the U.N.'s grotesque Human Rights Council), fueled by a mix of classic anti-Semitism, near-total historical ignorance and reflexive sympathy for the ostensible Third World underdog, these eruptions featuring Palestinian casualties ultimately undermine support for Israel's legitimacy and right to self-defense.
In a world of such Kafkaesque ethical inversions, Hamas' depravity begins to make sense. This is a world in which the Munich massacre is a movie and the murder of Klinghoffer is an opera – both deeply sympathetic to the killers. This is a world in which the U.N. ignores humanity's worst war criminals while incessantly condemning Israel, a state warred upon for 66 years which nonetheless goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid harming the very innocents its enemies use as shields.
It's to the Israelis' credit that amid all this madness they haven't lost their moral scruples. Or their nerve. Those outside the region have the minimum obligation, therefore, to expose the madness and speak the truth. Rarely has it been so blindingly clear.
This op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Post.