Saturday, November 29, 2008
Battle between good and evil
Battle between good and evil
Hopefully altruism represented by Chabad emissaries in Mumbai will win over terrorists' murderous egotism
Rabbi Levi Brackman
It seems so surreal. I have been watching the news that has been coming out of Mumbai, India in virtual horror. Any terror attack targeting innocent people is nothing short of evil. However, this attack has been especially troubling for more reasons than one. We have become accustomed to terror attacks that are over within a few moments. These attacks have lasted days instead of minutes. Those of us who are following the news coming out of Mumbai are witnessing horror happening in slow motion. The fact that one of the locations targeted by the terrorists is a Jewish center makes these brazen and malevolent attacks more significant for us as Jews. That the Jewish center is a Chabad House run by a fellow Chabad representative makes this terror attack even more personal for me. I have been deeply affected by this attack not just because it has targeted a colleague, his wife and family, but because it has pitted good against evil in the clearest manner possible.
What motivates a young ultra-orthodox Jew to move with his young wife from a religious enclave in Brooklyn, New York to Mumbai in India? Clearly it wasn’t a lucrative contract. It was done with one aim in mind: to help his fellow Jews. There is little material reward for a religious Jews to move to a developing country where they may end up in harm’s way.
Despite the dangers, for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, living in Mumbai was worth it simply because it provided them a unique opportunity to serve the needs of others. The selflessness inherent in the work the Holtzberg’s are doing and in the way they live their lives is staggering.
Danger to civilized societies
Contrast this with the terrorists. These evil people are completely self-serving. They are only concerned with their own needs and desires. The fact that their selfish requirements hurt the lives of others is of little concern to them. They are comfortable killing innocents if it fits in with their own nefarious aims.
According to Judaism murderers must be put to death because they blight civilized societies. The act of murder maintains that the murderer’s life takes precedence to that of the murdered person. Thus, taking another’s life is the ultimate act of ego. It is saying, “My life is more important than yours” when in fact no human has the ability to make such an assessment. People who feel that they and their cause are so important that they are willing to kill for it are the essence of evil and pose a danger to civilized societies.
This is what terrorists are. They think that their cause trumps innocent people’s right to life. As a result of this ego-centric and evil mindset they are motivated to kill innocent men, women and children in cold blood so that their self-centered cause can be served.
Over the last few days we have seen an encounter between the forces of evil and destructive egotism and people who represent goodness, kindness and selflessness. That these beacons of light, positivity and altruism have now been prematurely extinguished is beyond tragic and is another blow to humanity and a heartbreaking victory for the forces of terror, destruction and darkness. That the inspiration the Holtzberg’s have left us will live on is little consolation. Real courage is in short supply and clearly the Holtzberg’s had that in large quantities.
The day evil triumph’s is a bleak and dark day for the world. I refuse to be consoled. May G-d have mercy upon all the victims of this senseless display of malevolence.
Rabbi Levi Brackman is co-author of "Jewish Wisdom for Business Success"