Be Strong, and Let us Strengthen Each Other
All of us are deeply saddened by the vicious murder of a teacher and children at a Jewish school in Toulouse, France. All of us continue to be deeply concerned about the flow of missiles fired into Israel by terrorists in Gaza. All of us are distressed by the unvarnished hatred of Jews and of Israel espoused by the leader of Iran, the leaders of Hamas and by other hate-mongering individuals and groups.
Surely, we need to be sure that the murderers and terrorists are properly caught and punished by the police and by the defense forces of Israel and other countries.
It does little good for us to wring our hands in distress. It does little good for us to complain and lament helplessly.
There are practical things we can and should do to strengthen our own spirits, and to strengthen the spirits of our communities. We must never allow our enemies to determine our future or to dampen our resolve. The enemies must understand unequivocally that we stand together, we stand strong, we stand resolved.
Here are some suggestions:
Attend synagogue regularly. When we come together as a group of worshipful Jews, we give each other encouragement. We come before the Almighty as a community. We enjoy the solidarity of a community at prayer.
Give charity to Jewish institutions as a vote for their continued good work. Donate to your synagogue, day school, communal organizations. Let our enemies know that every time they strike against us, we respond with tremendous unity and generosity to build and expand our communities.
Support Israel in every possible way. Donate to Israeli institutions. Buy Israeli products. Visit Israel. Let relatives and friends in Israel know that we are solidly behind them and share in their destiny.
When we finish reading a book of the Torah in synagogue, we have the custom of calling out "Hazak veNithazak"--be strong and let us be strengthened. In our synagogue at Shearith Israel, we add the verse: Let your hearts be strong and fortified, all who trust in the Lord. I like to understand this verse, in a homiletic sense, to be teaching: Be strong and then the Lord will strengthen your hearts, all who trust in the Lord. First, we must demonstrate courage. If we do this, then the Lord will strengthen our hearts.
We obviously live in a world where hatred and violence raise their ugly heads. We must fight this hatred with total commitment and total resolve. But to confront these enemies of Jews and humanity, we ourselves need to be strong, to strengthen each other, and to be confident that ultimately righteousness and goodness will prevail. Each time we demonstrate our resolve, solidarity and strength, we make a statement and deed against our enemies; we make a statement and deed toward a better humanity and a better world.