Our Reaction to Terror

Again, there is no peace and quiet in Eretz Yisrael.

When the government develops an approach to handling one style of terror, we are confronted by yet another. We have some short respites and then the volcano of hate and evil explodes in another direction. Today, we are faced by individual, seemingly disorganized “lone wolves” that can and do attack in every corner of our Land. A whole new plan of action has to be developed to protect the Jews of Eretz Yisrael from the latest style of terrorism.

What we should address, however, is neither Prime Minister Netanyahu’s challenge nor Defense Minister’s Yaalon’s task, but rather our attitude. The Ribbono shel Olam has created a situation designed to put fear in our hearts. He wants us to awaken and not be complacent. We have to delve into the question as to why the Ribbono shel Olam has led us to this new reality.

One possibility is precisely to test us to see how we react to the situation. Rabbeinu Yonah says on the passukCherdas adam yitein mokesh — Fear of a man causes a stumbling block” (Mishlei 29:24); that fear of man is, in and of itself, a sin, and causes a stumbling block as it strengthens the enemy and causes the tzarah to befall those who fall prey to fear.” A person should not fear man but should rely on Hakadosh Baruch Hu and that bitachon will itself provide the reward that will save him from the tzarah. Perhaps it is an opportunity to put our bitachon to the test and to strengthen our emunah — to realize that it is not the Arab terrorist that we have to fear, but the Ribbono shel Olam.

In addition to learning not to fear man, there is something positive that we must do also. There is a famous machlokes between Rambam and Ramban as to whether there is a positive mitzvah to daven every day. Rambam says that tefillah daily is a mitzvas asei. Even though the nusach of the tefillah and the times of the tefillah are mid’Rabbanan, that one must express a tefillah to Hakadosh Baruch Hu every day is one of the taryag mitzvos. Ramban, on the other hand, says that the whole concept of davening daily is mid’Rabbanan. Ramban believes, though, and the Mishnah Berurah (106:4) concludes, that most of the Poskim agree, that tefillah min haTorah is tied to the feeling of pain. When something bothers you, there is a mitzvas asei min haTorah to express a tefillah. Harav Elyashiv, zt”l, in Peninei HaTorah says that it doesn’t make a difference if you feel pain for yourself or you hear of or feel someone else’s pain. When you hear that someone is sick or troubled — when you hear of someone who needs a shidduch or the blessing of children — or when you hear of a terrorist attempting to kill Jews — whenever you feel that twinge in your heart that tells you that all is not right, there is a mitzvas asei min haTorah to offer a tefillah to Hashem to remove the cause of that pain. Rav Elyashiv, in fact, says that if one does not offer a tefillah at that moment, he is mevatel a mitzvas asei min haTorah according to Ramban. If, chas v’shalom, we hear of another  pigua, we should realize that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is reminding us to speak to Him.

In a more global and very positive vein, there is at least a third aspect to this threat. Rabbi Nosson Zvi Yarom, the son of a neighbor of mine in Har Nof, did an outstanding job of researching and categorizing statements of the Chofetz Chaim on tefillah. He researched printed sources as well as unpublished documents written by the Chofetz Chaim and transcriptions of his words, and published them in a sefer called Tefillah B’mechitzas haChofetz Chaim. In that sefer, I found the Chofetz Chaim’s approach. He wrote in his sefer Shem Olam, “And so it is in our time. When you see Jews oppressed in many countries [he points out Morocco and Iran], don’t allow yourself to get depressed. On the contrary, it is a sign that soon we will be redeemed and we will be raised from the depths and it will be proclaimed for all to see and hear that the nation that was shamed and embarrassed all these thousands of years is truly the rosh pinah — the foundation of the world.”

The Yerushalmi in Yoma 18b says that in the future the Redemption will come “kima, kima” — in small steps. Since the time of the Chofetz Chaim, we have witnessed many small and even some large steps that have advanced the ingathering of the exiles and our return to Eretz Yisrael. The current situation is just another step in the process. After we strengthen our bitachon with the belief that Hashem will protect His people and we say a tefillah that Hashem should save us, it is time to rejoice because it is one more sign that the Melech HaMoshiach is on his way.


The author can be reached at rabbisbloom@gmail.com