Thursday, October 17, 2019

With Lag BaOmer upon us, we leave our days of spiritual mourning and take a day to be festive and enjoy the warmth of a wedding or the flame of a bonfire. And don’t forget to get that haircut!

These past 32 days have been shocking. We’ve witnessed an alarming amount of anti-Semitic vitriol and negativity toward Jews. With sadness, we grieve the tragedy of the Poway Chabad shooting. With frustration, we witness a continual rise in anti-Semitic comments and anti-Israel statements and demonstrations in Highland Park and Teaneck, not to mention the caricature of us in the New York Times.

We also cannot forget the steely cold comments of Holocaust revisionism by a member of the House of Representatives, hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza at Israel and the heightened danger of war induced by the toxic Iranian regime.

As we emerge from Lag BaOmer, we must hold on to the days ahead, seeing them as a lighted path that takes us to matan Torah, the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people.

During this time it is important for the Jewish people to remember the questions we asked, the prayers we said and the songs we enthusiastically sang about our exodus from Egypt into freedom at our Seder tables.

As free people, it is our right and privilege to continue to take anti-Semitism seriously and work against it. We must work to quiet the tremors of BDS, and politically we must do our best to remove Israel’s enemies from our Congress.

All of this rests on the foundations of our prayers and our service to Hashem. While we celebrate the end of the plague to Rabbi Akiva’s 24,000 students, we also recognize that today there are different “plagues,” modern varieties.

The days ahead connect our freedom with our law. We are reminded today that we can never stop protecting both. Am Yisrael chai.