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Devar Torah - Tetzaveh

Thursday, 22 February, 2018 - 2:02 pm

To Build and to Rebuild

By Rabbi Shimon Raichik

We are in a state of pain and shock from the terrible tragedy that occurred this last week in Parkland Florida. Seventeen people were lost including four Jewish students and one Jewish teacher.

We hear a lot of discussion about gun control as a solution to this problem. While it’s true that guns should be controlled,  it’s not a solution to the problem. It’s a Band-Aid on top of the sore but it doesn’t go to the core of the wound. 40 years ago there were plenty of guns but there were no mass shootings. What happened to then until now?

The Rebbe spoke on many occasions about the need for a moment of silence at public schools throughout the country. The concept is constitutional because it can be instituted in a nonsectarian fashion by allotting time for each student to be quiet and reflect in accordance with their chosen belief.

The awareness of a higher power, an eye that sees and an ear that hears, has an immeasurably positive affect on the individual and upon society at large. The Rebbe likened the condition of the world to a jungle (how much more so today). By making it a priority to have a moment of silence shows our children the importance we as a community at large place on its value to each child. By instilling this awareness each child strives to become a better person. The collective effect is cultivating a civilized and civilizing world, preventing it from devolving into a jungle.

Unfortunately nowadays far from the recommendations of the Rebbe, Hashem has been forced into a closet. This void has been filled with violence and improper behaviors between men and women by the entertainment industry. The concept of freedom to practice the religion of our choice detailed in the United States Constitution has morphed into freedom from religion, the exact opposite of what the founding fathers designed.

Once there is no awareness of Hashem in the mind of a child, the ability of society to strengthen our youth and safeguard them from gravitating  towards negative behaviors is eroded. What exactly stands in the way of wild and deviant preoccupations and inhumane atrocities? This is especially true for confused alienated and angry children who have been somehow overlooked or shunned. Take a look at how the ‘leadership’ allowed the unbridled ‘rage’ in Ferguson and Baltimore to spiral out of control as if to give it tacit approval.

Nowadays children open up their iPhones and go on Facebook or their favorite newsfeed and see these events on a regular basis. It becomes the national conversation for weeks at a time. This is the new culture and the new normal.

Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu; how fortunate we are to have guidance in every aspect of our lives from the very beginning of the day when we open our eyes and say Modeh Ani, expressing our gratitude for life. We know that it is the responsibility of each individual to go in a good way, to serve Hashem and to do all within our means to ensure life for our communities. One person can make all the difference and change the world for the good. We can see this from what occurred in Florida. If one FBI agent misses the warning signs or doesn’t do his or her job a, disaster can occur; all the more so in positive pursuits.

This is a lesson for all of us in our service of Hashem. Our purpose is to make a Mishkan, a dwelling place for Hashem in this world. This begins in our homes by creating a secure environment embued with emunah and bitachon, full of all the Jewish warmth and Chassidishe spirit necessary to envelop our families friends and visitors with hope and inspiration.

Through living a life of Torah and mitzvos according to Chassidus we are filled with the awareness that we are all responsible and can help. With one act of goodness and kindness both you and I can and will change the world for the better. When we all unite together, parents and schools and the community at large, we can do what is necessary to make this world a safe secure warm and vibrant dwelling place for Hashem.

A Good Shabbos 

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