Often at live shows U2’s Bono opens up “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by declaring: “This is not a rebel song.”
The lyrics are searing and poignant… and sadly all too fitting for what happened just days ago in Paris… and around the world.
“I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long…
‘Cause tonight, we can be as one
I think many human beings have multiple reactions to the carnage… at least I did.
The first is, obviously, horror… disgust… heartbreak and pain. If you are like me, you literally feel this in your gut, like a sucker punch or the harsh blow of a boxer. Tears flowed almost endlessly as I checked my phone… watched the news… searched online for information.
Then there was anger… frustration… confusion… and yes, fear. How could this happen again? How could this happen in a country so apparently (or apparently not) prepared for another attack and on heightened security? How could Isis wreak so much havoc in the course of a few weeks and in so many places?
Would this be the straw that finally wakes the world up? Why does it take so many straws? Will countries, once and for all, unite and fight together… not looking to blame someone else… or find a misguided and non-existent “balance”?
This is when the “Jewish” reaction comes into play, and I do believe we see these attacks differently… partly because Israel endures terror or attempted terror almost daily. The recent rash of stabbings in Jerusalem still hangs heavily in the air, especially because I have friends visiting there now.
And partly because anti-Semitism is on the rise… violent anti-Semitism… One need only look back to France on January 7th of this year, in what is “billed” as the Charlie Hebdo Killings. The supporting “players” were those killed the next day, at a Kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes.
And yet… where was the universal outcry? Where was the united front? Where was the “declaration of war” then?
My friends joked that the Jews or Israel will get blamed for Paris, somehow. Sadly, it’s not a joke.
When there is a killing in Israel, Jews stand up and speak up and out. They march and protest, and this goes for the killing of a Palestinian boy or a crowd of gay pride marchers. I hope and pray the Muslim world is really going to do the same, and go beyond words. Words can be comforting, but they can also and often be hollow… I will let you use due diligence to read multiple sources and see who is actually speaking out and taking action.
For the record, this photo is of Israelis AND Palestinians coming together to protest the most recent violence!!! This is the way it needs to be… MUST be…
My last point on this is the hope that Je Suis Charlie… And Je Suis Paris… can become Je Suis Human…
Because this IS a battle of humanity… a worldwide struggle of being a true, compassionate and loving human being and maintaining a powerful and real spirituality, and belief in Hashem… while also standing up to all who would try to destroy that.
The question is… how do we do this?
Luckily for us, we have a guide. Three guides in fact, all coming from the One and Only… (Thanks to Chabad.org for the specific insight.) And while this is mostly used around the High Holidays, it is a powerful and essential reminder of how to live each and every day!
Teshuvah… Returning to the self. Rediscovering our good. I do believe it goes beyond repentance, and must include getting to the core… the inner nature… and finding each of our own’s true purpose. This was a battle for me this past Yom Kippur… but it is a daily battle well worth having. All we have is ourselves and our purpose… our individual power and light.
Tefillah… On the surface, this is prayer… but it is much more powerful to look at is as “attaching oneself” to Hashem… connecting oneself to Hashem.
I thrive on the notion that every morning, as I wrap Tefillin, I get to connect with Hashem… to have a conversation with G-d.
It was recommended to me, that after I say the Modeh Ani, I also take the time to focus on the day ahead, set goals and clearly know what I want to achieve.
My friends say Tefillin brings your head and heart together… It is a meditation. I say the wrapping bonds me to Hashem and betroths me to Him. That is almost literally what you do as your wrap your fingers and hand.
I love how Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says it, and thanks to him for such clarity…
“For while there may be those who do not lack anything and thus have nothing to request of G-d, there is no-one who does not need to attach himself to the source of all life.”
The last is Tzedakah, which he says means righteousness or justice. In my mind, it means to always do the right thing… no matter what. This is not always easy, but the rewards are immense… and I can tell you, you will sleep a whole lot better if you always do the right thing. It is as much of a gift as you can possibly give to another person.
Three things… Seems simple enough… Maybe even too simple… too simplified…
But think about them… Really look at these notions and study them and take them deeper.
Ask yourself, do I really do these things to the top of my ability, day in and day out?
Love is the simplest notion in the world… but also the most deep… the most complex… the most difficult… the most challenging thing to gain and achieve and keep fully alive. It needs to be fed and worked on… thought about… contemplated… studied…
Oh, but what love can do.
We must stand together and raise our voices… Make a difference, with whatever small steps or voice we have. Taking action is essential… and so is our belief in Hashem… and our three guides can get us closer each and every day… even in the face of such tragedy and violence.
Je Suis Juif. Je Suis Human. Je Suis Love. (Yes, Je Suis Amour)