I’m getting so much information about the terror in Israel, mostly via Facebook, that it’s hard to know what’s really going on. I watch a video and I wonder, who’s doing the filming? What does that person want me to see, to know, to believe?
In these painful and confusing times, it’s more important than ever for me to maintain a perspective that does not depend on biased information.
The perspective I try to maintain is that of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who views everything from a G-dly plane. Don’t ask me why, but from the Rebbe’s perspective, each of us roaming the earth today has the ability to actualize the true and final Redemption of the Jewish people. Okay, ask me why– it’s because the bulk of the work of refining and repairing the world has already been done by the generations who came before us all these thousands of years.
Makes sense, right? Which means that from our perspective, our small efforts– an act of kindness, a mitzvah, a prayer—can finish the job.
The craziness of today’s world is making it easier than ever for people to see that Moshiach’s arrival is the only viable option for the Jewish people, and all people, and that what we are experiencing are the “birth pangs” of this transformation.
I’m trying to say extra Psalms, trying to watch how I speak, and, of course, trying to influence others to appreciate this perspective. I figure, if Moshiach is what G-d ultimately wants, He’ll help me reach people, right?
I just have to make the effort.
One thing I try to do is look for Jews who have a wider, more diverse audience, which is why I contacted British/Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips after hearing an interview with her about the Middle East. She was not only intelligent and articulate, she was the former darling of the liberal media who joined the conservative ranks. She had changed her perspective! I figured it must be basherte that I ask if she had the Torah perspective on the situation.
Here’s what I wrote to her from Jerusalem:
My husband and I traveled the same Israeli road just hours before the Henkens were murdered yesterday. The insanity must stop. But it can only stop with G-d’s help, the help of the G-d of Israel. Have you encountered Chabad Chassidus? If not, may I recommend that you contact your closest Chabad rabbi? Chabad teachings are comforting and empowering– and aligned with your world view. You have been blessed with a powerful moral voice; thank you for using it to help others find theirs.
Within minutes, I received an answer from her. She was indeed familiar with Chabad. But she also sounded like she needed better information about it. I emailed her again and suggested she read Rabbi Joseph Telushkin’s book, Rebbe.
From my perspective, having just gotten a glimpse of Chabad in Italy, I am more grateful than ever to be part of its global effort to add goodness and G-dliness to the world. Who could imagine that Venice’s ghetto, the first place where Jews were forced to live separately, is now home to a Chabad yeshiva and a kosher restaurant, both visited by thousands of tourists each year?
But what truly inspired me was the Roman community built by Rabbi Sholom Ber and Chana Hazan. Chana grew up in Pittsburgh, the daughter of Chabad’s head emissaries, Rabbi Yisroel and Blumi Rosenfeld, but you would never know that from the way she spoke in Italian to hundreds of guests at her son Mendel’s Bar Mitzvah party. The hallmark of Chabad emissaries everywhere is their dedication to putting the needs of others before their own, but seeing how Chana does this in a very different culture very far from home is more than admirable, it’s miraculous. And Chana is far from unique.
In these painful and confused days before Moshiach’s arrival, a little bit of selflessness carries a lot of spiritual weight. I know I can give more of myself and help others tap into their G-dly selves as well. Who knows? Maybe Melanie has already gotten the new information she needed to change her perspective.