By Simon Jacobson
Every responsible person is asking today: “What
can I do about the deteriorating situation in Israel?” And for
that matter, “the constant threat of attack in America as well.”
This is not the space or time to address those
that are just not asking the question for whatever reason. But
even for those of us that are wondering what we can do, the
answer seems to be not that simple, and the resulting consequences
of answering – or not answering this question – are far reaching.
When tragedy strikes around us, there is no such
thing as a neutral position. You are either going to do something
about it or not. Yes, it may be easier to go into denial and
ignore events around us, but as Maimonides writes, “when a calamity
strikes the community we must cry out, examine our lives and
correct our ways. To say that the calamity is just the
way of the world and a coincidence is cruel and insensitive.”
We really have no choice but to find a way to
respond to today’s crisis. If we do not, we do not remain untouched,
our psyches become paralyzed by our inaction, and this paralysis
will undermine and erode our self confidence in all areas of
life. We MUST act. Period.
To think that the problem is not ‘ours’ but someone
else’s is quite foolish especially after September 11th.
We learn from the sin of the scouts (see essay
of two weeks ago, The Birth of Projection) that we do not ask
“WHETHER we can do it,” we ask “HOW we can do it.”
So, what can we do? I believe that the best way
to answer the question is by sharing with you what I and some
others are doing. There is a time for words and there is a time
for action. When we witness daily loss – senseless loss – of
lives in Israel, words are simply inadequate. As Rabbi Schneur
Zalman of Liadi says, when a question is asked that you cannot
answer, tell a story. If that does not work, sing a song.
Last night I had the honor and privilege to sing
a song together with an extraordinary group of people, including
four special individuals who have directly suffered loss in
recent months. Two women who tragically lost their husbands
in the World Trade Center attack on September 11. One woman
whose mother was shot dead by a terrorist sniper near Efrat,
Israel. Another woman who suffered severe wounds in a terrorist
suicide homicide in Ben Yehuda…
I kid you not when I tell you that someone actually
fainted in the room of approximately 200 people when one of
these women shared her gripping and heartbreaking story.
Man, if you wanted reality, you should have been
there last night. Real life. Real death. And, above all, real
strength and hope.
You see, a group of us, initiated by a student
of mine, Lauren Finkelstein, gathered together last night, at
the launch event of a project called Save One Person, Save the
World. Based on the words of the Mishne, that when you save
a life you save the entire universe, we came together to encourage
each other and to create a global awareness of the fact that
you CAN and MUST do something today. By helping or saving the
life of a person you save the universe.
This is not a cliché, it is a real fact.
The Torah teaches us that the value of life is not defined quantitatively,
but qualitatively. Every life is an entire world. Do not underestimate
the effect you have when you share kind words and soothe another
Last night we tasted an experience of what simple
individuals like us can actually do in response to all the pain
and loss around us, and to the clouds of uncertainty hanging
over us. As the immortal words of Kaddish echoed through the
room and through our souls, as we heard the emotional message
of hope and strength from the real survivors – two hundred of
us committed to changing the world in our own way.
The greatest and most powerful response to the
terror around us is by doubling and tripling our effort in helping
those around us. As much as you have done until now, go out
of your way and lend your hand to another – financially, emotionally,
spiritually – in whatever way possible.
Do something to save a life, and you save not
just that life but the life of the entire universe.
Simplistic or not, this is the time tested method
that has kept the Jewish people here for eternity. This is the
message that we learn from our great ancestors. This is the
power that we draw from the great Rebbe, Reb Yosef Yitzchak,
who was miraculously liberated from Soviet prisons this Shabbat
(Tammuz 12) 75 years ago. A man who stood up to the formidable
and murderous Stalinist regime, a man who faced the abyss many
a time, and did not just survive, but single handedly created
a rebirth, reaching even the American shores, as one of the
most powerful forces in today’s Jewish renaissance.
Do not stand by as an observer on the sidelines.
Act. Do your thing today to help another person. Add an additional
mitzvah. Keep Shabbat and Kashrut. Light a Shabbat candle tonight
before sundown. Study Torah. Pray. All people – commit to the
universal Divine laws that transform this world into a holier
We are not victims or mere observers. Our actions
matter now and forever.
Our blood boils when we hear about those that
were silent during the Holocaust. When we will be asked one
day: “What did you do about the tragic events happening around
you?” what will your answer be?
I for one do not want to be left with no answer,
or worse yet, an answer that I did nothing. I want to know that
I did everything in my power. I hope you feel the same.
Let us create a true revolution. Let us reconnect
to our Divine mission. Let us move heaven and earth with our
actions. We have been promised that when we do, we will save
the universe – literally.
In Honor of the Kedoshim
Gregory Richard – Dovid
Thierry – Eliyahu ben
All lives ripped away
from us by terrorists in America and Israel.
Hashem yinkom domom. May
their blood cry out to heaven and earth and be avenged
May we honor their lives
by saving and helping lives around us
something we each can do to counteract the terror we are experiencing
in Israel and America
One Person, Save the World
Honor and immortalize the lives lost and their surviving
families. For every life lost, let us save a life and thereby
save the world. "When you save a life, you save the entire
universe" - Mishne, Sanhedrin 37a
Your action matters. We want to send our message to millions
across the globe, Join us as a partner. Let us respond to every
act of terror with an act of kindness
If you cannot participate in our event, please do an act of
kindness and help save another life. Help us in our work, by
sending a donation in honor of the lives lost and the lives
Please make your checks payable to
The Meaningful Life Center
Lauren Finkelstein Founder
Diane Kaston Director of Strategic Initiatives
Check out our website SAVEONEPERSON.ORG, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more details. We are a 501c3 not for profit; all donations
are fully deductible to the extent allowed by law