This past Sunday, while standing at the entrance to Sea World, a middle aged gentleman came over asking if we had a pair of Tefillin. He had not put them on in many years. Thank G-d, the previous night my Lubavitch guilt had the better of me, and I had decided to bring them along! Phew. So there at the entrance to Sea World stood I, my wife and kids, and a random Jew putting on Tefillin… What a double-sided coin of a world we live in.
It has become a daily occurrence for a Jew to be approached and attacked by a total stranger simply because they are Jewish and at the very same time, across the world, I was also approached by someone I had never met, just because I am a Jew.
There was another event on Sunday. While we were wrapping the Tefillin, about 4,000 Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim, emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, were gathered in Brooklyn at the annual convention of Shluchim. The event is one in which these Rabbis draw strength for their work as ambassadors of the Jewish nation. They are at the forefront of the battle of good versus evil and G-dliness over the mundane. I have no doubt that I was approached In San Diego because someone in Brooklyn had previously helped this precious Jew learn some Torah or perform a Mitzvah.
We are all Shluchim. Indeed it was the wish of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that every single Jew view themselves as being placed at this exact place and this exact moment so that we influence ourselves, families and neighbors, and through them the world, to become more just and more kind. All of us are leaders in our indispensable missions in making this world a better place. Let us step up to the plate at this significant moment in history.
In this week’s Parsha we read how Yaakov Avinu, a most honest and sincere individual, tricks his father and “steals” his brother’s blessings. The story begs for an explanation. Isn’t trickery a terrible thing? Why did Rivkah Imeinu push him to cheat? And most of all, why did the Jewish people have to receive these most unique blessings in a roundabout way?
This is the sod habria, the secret of creation. All is spiritual in heaven, yet the soul descends to this world of untruth with a mission. A mission to work with the unholy and change it to good. Esav was a man of falsehood, even the good he did was in order to mislead Yitzchok Avinu. The true birur was for Yaakov to enter Esav’s world of deceit and redeem the blessings.
As Jews we are not interested in war, and would love for everyone to live peacefully. But, if a fight is forced on us we will stand up with all our might and defend what’s just. Our fellow Jews in the IDF would like nothing more than for their guns to rust from lying idle. Alas, they are called upon to defend the innocent against modern day barbarians, using those very weapons if need be.
We in the diaspora should do the same. As religious Jews we shy away from attention and public debate. Still, Israel, and by extension the Jewish people, are being delegitimized and accused of modern day blood libels. We need to don the cloak of Esav and fight back in kind. A meek response won’t do. We need to expose our enemies as old-fashioned bigots who can’t get over their own moral failings, jealously pinning them on the easy scapegoat, the Jew. We don’t decide the rules of the game but are prepared to play by them if called upon to do so.
We are certain we will be victorious, but how we get there is up to us.
May we draw infinite strength from the eternal Shabbos,