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Be a hero

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

Alongside the heartbreaking images and lists of people murdered and abducted in last week’s horrendous terror attack on Israel, also coming to light is a story of heroism in the face of evil. We are learning about children, adults, soldiers, civilians, Jews and non-Jews, who in the throes of the attack had the acumen to do all they could to protect their families and communities, some paying the ultimate price themselves.

There was the 9-year-old boy who protected his baby sister and hid in a closet for fourteen hours while on the phone with rescuers after his mother was murdered and older sister and father abducted. There was the dispatcher that stayed on the line with him throughout the ordeal until he and his sister were rescued. We read about the army commander who drove himself into the middle of the ongoing attack and eliminated several terrorists before being shot to death himself.

There was the grandmother that fed the attackers who held her and her husband at gunpoint for 20 hours in her home, keeping them occupied until her son’s SWAT unit managed to rescue them and eliminate the terrorists.

The young recent draftee who was off for the holiday and in the midst of the Simchat Torah celebrations managed to keep the attackers at bay, even using the terrorists’ own weapons against them, until he too succumbed to his injuries.

Soldiers running into the line of fire to protect their brothers and sister, first responders tending to the wounded with bullets still flying overhead, and of course those tasked with the grim responsibility of collecting and identifying the victims’ remains.

There are also the diaspora Jews, who continue to amass huge amounts of supplies and funds to be shipped to Israel to benefit the soldiers on the front lines and to assist the refugees and victims. We have also seen thousands of mitzvah resolutions being committed to by Jews of all walks of life. People are putting on tefillin en masse, the light of Shabbat candles continues to brighten the darkness of the world, new mezuzahs being placed on homes proclaiming that proud Jews live here, Jewish owned non-kosher restaurants are temporarily going kosher, and overall Jewish unity has never been stronger.

This is truly the Jewish way. We don’t sit around and wait to be told what to do, we just do whatever is necessary as the opportunity arises. Hoping and praying that G-d does His part to bring an end to the horrors is commendable, but we need to do our part too, and that’s what we always have been doing.

In the story of Noah, where the world was destroyed by the Great Flood and he and his family were the only human survivors because G-d instructed him to build an ark and enter it, he didn’t wait for G-d to tell him that the flood was over. As soon as he noticed that the waters were receding, he sent birds out to determine if the earth had become habitable again. While the people couldn’t leave the ark until receiving direct instructions from G-d, Noah did whatever was in his power to make that happen sooner, demonstrating to G-d that they were ready.

We too are ready. We are ready for an end to the atrocities, an end to the horrors we are seeing in front of our eyes, an end to the bitter pain that all Jews around the world are experiencing. G-d may have His timetable, but every mitzvah we do today demonstrates to G-d, and in fact to the entire world, that we are ready for the timetable to be moved up. We don’t know the “why” but we do know the “how” — by eliminating the darkness through a flood of light and goodness, we are ensured that just like in Noah’s times, the redemption can be hurried up as a result of our actions.

May we indeed experience the ultimate light in the world, the redemption in its truest form, with the coming of Moshiach and the return of all Jews to the Promised Land and the rebuilding of our Temple in Jerusalem.

Every Jew can be a hero and make that happen.

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