Our Response to Tragedy


What in the World Can We Do?

How can your heart not tear asunder seeing the horrific scenes in Israel? We haven’t seen such chilling images since the Holocaust. Jews slaughtered like sheep — while candies are being handed out in celebration in Gaza… What should be our response? What do we do with our outrage and anger? How do we move one without going into denial?

Maimonides writes that when a calamity strikes a 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.

So what exactly can we do in face of our collective tragedy?

Rebuild Israel

For us to regain power we must rebuild our holy land. We must build what our enemy seeks to destroy.

“When one rises the other will fall:” When we build and fortify Israel — both physically and spiritually — the “other side” naturally falls.

For every attack on a Jew, we need to build an even greater edifice. Both physically — as in homes, synagogues, schools. As well as build up the spiritual land with study, prayer, charity and acts of goodness and kindness.

Baseless Love

How do we rebuild the spiritual and physical land and its Holy Temple? The Talmud tells us that a generation that does not rebuild the Temple is considered as if it destroyed it. Because the Temple was destroyed due to to baseless hatred, and as long as we do not correct that we remain responsible for the continued state of destruction.

Thus the clearest path to rebuilding is to create a groundswell of baseless love — to counter baseless hate — thereby eliminating the cause and thus the effect of Israel’s destruction.

“Build me a sanctuary and I will rest among you,” G-d tells the people. The Temple is a channel and vehicle for the Divine presence among us in the material world.

We must rebuild the Temple in our times. We must transform our lives, communities, societies into a Divine Sanctuary. And thereby prepare the ground for the rebuilding of the physical Temple in Jerusalem. Indeed, we are taught that the Temple above is spiritually ready; all it needs is to descend below. And this is precipitated through our actions – through our study, prayer and charity.

A Little Light Dispels a Lot of Darkness

Every mitzvah/good deed is an act of light dispelling darkness. We must increase in our acts of righteousness, goodness and kindness. We must be there for one another. We must help one another. We must come together as one.

And we must increase in charity. Giving charity proclaims loud and clear: we are here to change the world, to bring righteousness into the equation, to dispel the selfish darkness with our selfless light.


In times of crisis we always gathered the children together and had them recite verses, say prayers and give charity.

As King David writes in the Book of Psalms: [9] Mepi oililm v’yonkim yosadeto oiz l’hashbis oyev u’misnakem – “Out of the mouth of babes and infants You have established Your might – to answer those who deny You, to silence the enemy and the vengeful.”

Let us gather our children both at home as well as in assemblies and rallies, where we recite Torah verses together, pray together, and give charity together.

Besides all the other benefits in doing this, your children will forever remember that we do not retreat in times of challenge. We stand up with pride and embrace our faith and our traditions.

Action Plan

In sum, our response to a gruesome attack, is to channel all our outrage and fury into a spiritual eruption of building an even stronger Israel, both physically and spiritually.

Here are practical and actionable steps that each of us can take:

  • Commit here and now to love every person, friend or stranger, with baseless and unconditional love.
  • Eliminate judgmentalism from your life.
  • Commit to increase and intensify your spiritual journey toward self growth.
  • Increase in charity and acts of goodness and kindness.
  • Every morning and evening have your children say prayers and increase in charity.
  • Inspire others to do all the above.

This is the way we have always responded to challenging events, knowing that “when one rises, the other will fall.”

We must embrace that which we always knew: “The more they were oppressed, the more they proliferated and gained strength”, making us an invincible people, which no one and nothing can destroy.

Jews have survived all the great empires: The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, etc. Not just survived, but thrived. We will survive and thrive through these latest challenges.

And we will rebuild Israel and its Holy Temple to its full and greatest glory, even greater than it ever was, and for eternity.

If history is a testimony to anything; if you could be assured of anything, you can be assured of that.

Live with Rabbi Simon Jacobson
What Are You Willing to Fight For?
Wednesday, October 18, 2023 @8:30pm
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