Shomer Yisrael

I’m writing in response to the opinion titled “Security Alert.” I was appalled by what was written and much more by what was not written. Had this article been discussing security of a non-Jewish entity it might have been appropriate, but this is not the case. It is, rather, a case of the protection of Yidden and our holy batei medrash and our chadarim and schools.

Since when are we obligated to make so many calculations and explore every aspect and venue in order to give us a feeling of safety? Isn’t all this just hishtadlus? Out of all messages that we took out from the coronavirus crisis, the strongest was for sure that Hashem showed us that we are afar va’eifer, we know very little, and we are all too vulnerable.

Besides the above, where is the Eibershter in this whole picture? Where is any mention of Hashem, the Shomer Yisrael? Let us not be so swept up with the political winds that are blowing and the illusion of kochi v’otzem yadi. Let’s stick to the real safety measures of the Torah and remember that “If Hashem will not guard the city, in vain is the watchman vigilant.”

The author replies:

There is no question that the workings of the world are beyond us. And we must have complete faith in Hashem looking after and taking care of us. But complete faith — emunah — does not mean we should be negligent. In the same way as we must take precautions with the coronavirus, we must also take precautions against any and all other threats. When Yaakov Avinu was challenged by Esav, he readied himself by davening and preparing for battle. Similarly, when the Jewish community is faced with any type of threat, it is incumbent on all of us to reduce the potential risk to the greatest extent possible. For communities concerned with security, this necessitates an evaluation and reevaluation of security measures to ensure that they are effective. This is especially true in light of changes to how our community organizations will operate as a result of COVID-19.

You are correct that we have to conduct hishtadlus. As we learn from the Gemara, we should not (only) rely on Hashem’s miracles nor take unnecessary risks, but must (also) do our part to protect ourselves. By balancing emunah and hishtadlus, we hope and expect Hashem to help and watch over us. “You shall greatly beware for your souls” (Devarim 4:15).

Akiva Sandler