The Enemy Within
Just when I was beginning to recover (if such a thing is fully possible) after the horrific murder of an innocent little child in Boro Park, I hear the news about the killing of a holy Rabbi in Israel. The feelings of trauma are rather acute, and what makes both of these situations even more tormenting were that they were not only committed by fellow Jews, but those that associated themselves with the religious community. How is this possible?
Unfortunately, we are used to these types of acts committed by Arabs or other vicious anti-Semites. Our history is full of atrocities committed against us by “others”. When terrorist attacks happen in Israel or 9/11, we can blame it on the Arabs and release our anger on an evil blood-thirsty enemy. Yet what happens when the enemy is within? We are left speechless. While it is premature to draw any conclusions from these two murders, we hopefully assume that they both were mentally ill. Otherwise, there is no explanation as to how two people from a peace-loving community could do such unspeakable things. For Jews, life is the highest virtue. We don’t have a culture where murder is glorified.
We are not prophets and we are certainly not G-d. We would be foolish to suggest that we understand why such things occur. The only thing we can do is to commit to increase goodness and light in the world. We find ourselves in the Nine Days of Av, a historically perilous time for the Jewish people. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) teaches us that the Second Holy Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred. We are also taught (Talmud Yerushalmi Yoma 1:10) that “Every generation for which the Temple is not rebuilt, is as though the Temple was destroyed in that generation.” It is a particularly opportune time to work on our interpersonal relationships. How many marriages are suffering? How many parents are struggling to provide their children with the care and love they need? Our relationships can be better. May we all take advantage of this time to bring more shalom into our most immediate world and thereby help bring about more light and peace in the world at large with the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple speedily in our days!