Rabbi Aryeh KaltmannThe writer is the Chabad emissary in Columbus, Ohio.
Remarkably, this Sabbath Jews throughout the world recite the following words from the Haftorah: “I have made you strong today like a fortified city and an iron pillar, like copper walls against the entire land,” says G-d. “They will fight against you but they will not prevail against you for I am with you to save you.”
“They will fight against you” is such a tragic but true prophecy. Forced to protect her citizens from the steady rain of rockets that have failed to cause widespread harm only because of Israel’s Iron Dome, Israel is now pushing into Gaza.
To quote Prime Minister Netanyahu, “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
Sadly, this is a battle whose frontlines extend way beyond Gaza. Far more than just an Israeli problem, the unrelenting attacks on Israel are an affront to every single Jew and, for that matter, every moral person, for anti-Semitism knows no bounds.
In Poland, for example, 70 years after trying to purge the country of its millions of Jews, Polish protesters are demonstrating and calling for Israeli flags to be destroyed in the crematoria chimneys. Exactly whom are these Poles of today so threatened by?
And, incredibly, Turkish Jews are very vulnerable as well. The country that once welcomed Jews fleeing from the Spanish Inquisition has been told by the heads of NGO's, “Turkish Jews will pay dearly for Israel’s actions.”
We Jews are too painfully familiar with the anti-Semitism predicted by the prophets thousands of years ago, but we are a resilient people. And we take solace in G-d’s promise, “They will not prevail against you for I am with you.”
In light of our current threats, clarity can be gleaned from a lesson of the Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory. Contemplating how a person sitting comfortably in an armchair on one side of the world, through a simple press of a button activating a nuclear arsenal, can drastically change the landscape of the entire world, he countered that likewise one mitzvah, one positive action, can produce everlasting effects. By performing one seemingly simple mitzvah, we can span oceans and continents.
Chaos theory says that a butterfly can flap its wings on one side of the world and cause a series of conditions producing a storm at a remote location. Although our universe seems dauntingly large, we are all interconnected.
What can we do beyond staying informed about the suffering of innocent people in the Middle East? We can perform a good deed whose far-reaching repercussions may never be known to us. We can go to Synagogue tomorrow in honor of our brothers and sisters and pray for their safety.
We are a connected people. When we do a mitzvah here in America, our family in Israel is helped.
As Israel’s brave soldiers proceed into Gaza, we pray that G-d stays ever close with each and every one of them. They are not the frontline just for the Jew of Israel, but, indeed for every Jewish man, woman and child and for every right-minded person.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaltmann is an emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Columbus, Ohio, the director of the Chabad House at Ohio State University.