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What a week. We began the week looking forward to the last two days of Chanukah, but a shocking antisemitic attack in Rockland, as well as other antisemitic attacks, has the Jewish community on edge. The news emanating from the Middle East has the entire geopolitical reality on edge as well. 

What is our response? What should it be?

I know we're barely in January, but I'd like to fast forward a few months to Passover. For Passover, while commonly understood as a celebration of a historical event, is actually a celebration of the art of overcoming adversity and difficult times. The historical significance of the holiday is only secondary to that message. That's what the very name 'Passover' signifies; 'passing over' adverse situations (successfully).

At the Seder, in the Haggadah, we read an interesting paragraph - some sing it. It's known as 'Vehi She'Amda', and it goes like this:

'And this (our faith in G‑d) is what kept our ancestors and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and G‑d saves us from their hands.'

What do you say? These words have inspired so many, but have also evoked intense reactions from those who feel faith should take a back seat to concrete action. At a time when we search for the proper response to antisemitic acts, these two viewpoints often finds themselves at loggerheads.

The secret of the Jewish experience however, is that these two viewpoints perfectly synthesize with each other. They're one and the same. For, in Jewish tradition, standing up proudly for who we are is faith. It is precisely our faith in the Creator that had inspired tens of generations of Jews to never give up, persevere, and bring us to where we are today. 

When negative events and antisemitism want to weaken our resolve in the Jewish future, we proudly say 'Vehi She'Amda': We will stand proud and do our best to protect ourselves and our community. And we know we'll be successful. The Creator of heaven and earth has our back.

Rabbi Avrohom