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How, Not If

Friday, 21 May, 2021 - 9:06 am

The last week has been a tough one for Jews all over the world. It has also been a miraculous one.

Jews in Israel were targeted in their homes, schools and synagogues. Jews in uniform were forced to defend themselves and their people, often at the cost of other human lives.

Jews in New York and Los Angeles were attacked – just for being Jewish. Our sister organization, Chabad Lubavitch of Utah in Salt Lake City, had its front door vandalized with a swastika.

In all of this, we have seen the hand of Hashem. It’s clear that the Torah’s statement about Israel rings true in all times: “The eyes of Hashem your G-d are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.”

And, just this week, it was wonderful seeing so many Jewish people stand proud and coming to Shul to hear the Ten Commandments on Shavuot.

Through all of this, one thing is clear. The question is not if, but how.

The question is not if there will be anti-Semites. The question is how will they attack us.

The question is not if we will defend our elderly and young, Jew and Muslim; it’s how will we defend ourselves against immoral and cynical terrorists.

The question is not if we seek peace, but how best to achieve it.

For our people, the if is not a question. It’s taken for granted. And, this is the miracle.


In this week’s Torah portion, Naso, we read about the instruction to the Kohanim (priests) to bless the Jewish people. The Torah states:

The L-rd spoke to Moshe saying: Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is how you shall bless the children of Israel, saying to them: "May the L-rd bless you and watch over you. May the L-rd cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the L-rd raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace." They shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them.

The commandment for the Kohanim to bless the Jewish people is counted as one of the 613 commandments of the Torah. Yet, interestingly, the Torah does not give a specific instruction to bless the people, i.e. Thou shall bless the people. Rather, the instruction is merely how to bless the people.

In other words, the Torah takes for granted the fact that the Kohanim will bless the people. It is only clarifying the manner in which the blessing should be carried out.

The lesson for all of us is immense. Speaking harshly toward another is not on the table. Neither is remaining silent. Rather we must always be seeking opportunities to praise and bless each other.

Ultimately, we all can learn from Aaron and his children, as we strive to live more caring lives.

We will always be a nation that blesses and brings holiness to this world. Now, let’s find the right words.

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