1. This can be a golden opportunity. This difficult episode can be a powerful impetus for change. When a storm is raging, we dare not ignore it or cover it up. We must remind ourselves and warn our children that there are people, even important and famous ones, who perpetrate serious offenses. We must make it clear that any abuse must be reported at once, and that It's not a matter of lashon hara to tell others about it. This is about heinous acts for which the perpetrator alone is guilty, and whose behavior must be stopped at once.
2. Beyond the immediate victims, there is potential collateral damage that we must take pains to prevent: loss of faith. Rabbi Chagai Londin writes that we cannot allow ourselves to say "they're all monsters" or "it's impossible to trust anyone." That would be destructive. For every abuser, there are thousands of good people. The world is full of honest and ethical individuals, even if the few who cross the line are clearly not. But we cannot paint the entire human race in black and fall into despair. The vast majority are good, a tiny minority are not, and the good majority must provide tools for dealing with the bad minority.
3. This week was the 24th of Tevet, the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Hasidism, the man who taught us that the most difficult battle, the real world war, is taking place each moment on the most turbulent battlefield that exists -- the human soul. Each of us needs to prevail in this perpetual battle, in the struggle between good and evil inside us. This is our principle mission in life.
4. And Hasidut also teaches us that if we see or hear something bad -- it's not by chance. We cannot allow ourselves to relate to a grievous incident as just another "item." It's forbidden to just see this as another juicy piece of soon forgotten news that has nothing to do with us. We must try to learn from everything that happens, refining ourselves in the process.
To relate to things so that they refine us, we have to develop humility.What is humility anyway?
If they would ask us for the essential quality of a leader, someone who would be followed by millions and start a true revolution in the world order, humility would probably not be the first quality that would come to mind. And yet, this is the most prominent quality of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Our sages explain that true humility is not shyness or passivity. The humble person can be a talker and a doer, but with a rare understanding that the mission, not him, must occupy center stage. The humble person certainly knows his value, but also knows that all his talents, status, and activity are merely tools given to him by God in order to fill the world with light and goodness.
Moshe Rabbeinu lives in this manner, free from ego, not full of himself. Therefore, he reaches such a high level. He understands the full potential of God's words to him and succeeds in communicating them to others, so that they are persuaded to leave Egypt, an event that changes the face of history.
On his desk in the Oval Office, President Reagan kept a small plaque with the words: “There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he does not mind who gets the credit.” None of us can approach the level of Moshe Rabbeinu. And yet, despite this, Moshe teaches us that it is precisely by letting go of thoughts about our own greatness, as opposed to the greatness of our mission, that we are able to accomplish a lot more in life.
Our outlook also makes a difference. No matter what happens, we can find daffodils among the ashes
Abigail Kadosh, who lives in moshav Beit Meir, sent me the following words:
"As you surely know, there was a major fire near our home in the Judaean Hills four months ago. It destroyed thousands of trees and killed numerous animals in the Masrek Nature Reserve and the Ya'ar HaKdoshim (Forest of the Martyrs), planted in memory of Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust.
"Today, in the wake of the horrific fire that incinerated this amazing slice of nature, I went outside and to my surprise discovered, among the remnants of the blaze, the year's first daffodils in bloom. The bulbs buried in the earth survived the intense heat of the fire and began to flower. Whoever said 'There is no despair in the world at all' was right.
"The Creator of the universe renews the act of creation each day. The ashes of burnt trees produce fertilizer that sustains new growth. How symbolic for each one of us, as we are all visited by various hardships which, in the end, contribute to our growth. How symbolic in regard to the Exodus we are now reading about in the Torah, the process of going out from slavery to freedom.
"After Moshe returns from Midian to begin the mission of taking his people out of Egypt, instead of going forward with redemption, things go backward, conditions worsen, and all seems dark and bleak. Moshe asks: 'Why have You harmed this people? Why have You sent me?' And then it's written: 'The Lord said to Moshe: 'Now you will see what I will do'. From here, within overwhelming darkness, redemption begins.
"You are all invited to the Judaean Hills to see this process currently unfolding before your eyes".