Sadness in Paris

  • January 09, 2015

    Dear haverim,


    It is another sad day for our world.  The terrorists in Paris have been killed, but they accomplished so much of their agenda.  They instilled fear in many, regardless of the size of the counter-demonstrations in Paris.  They murdered innocent people, some associated with a targeted magazine and some simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (a kosher market).  They left an indelible impression in the minds of many, reminding us of the evil man is capable of inflicting on another. 


    A few weeks ago our country was focused on the decision to withdraw distribution of The Interview.  Sony Pictures chose to capitulate to the threat of violence; they refused to move forward with the release of their controversial movie.  


    This week we find the world riveted on the actions of Muslim extremists who were offended by a satirical magazine in Paris.  Refusing to bow to the pressure over the course of many years, the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, continued to pursue its desire to publish as it saw fit. 


    Sony Pictures avoided violence.  Twelve people died at Charlie Hebdo’s office, and many more died in related violence over the course of the next few days.  We cannot afford to read into this that Sony chose wisely whileCharlie Hebdo erred.


    Whether a satirical magazine or some other form of cultural expression, we are experiencing an assault on our western freedoms.  Freedom of expression, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, all represent a mindset antithetical to the Muslim fundamentalists of our world.  We may disagree with the message of a movie (the assassination of a world leader) or the content of various cartoons (some vulgar and vicious), but that does not entitle us to exercise violence. 


    It is quite remarkable that this week’s Torah portion recalls the early years of Moshe Rabbeinu’s life.  Tomorrow morning we begin reading the book of Exodus--Sh’mot in Hebrew.  We begin to appreciate the person we know as Moses, how he grew up, where he learned his value lessons, how he retained his Jewish identity. 


    This remarkable story continues to inspire threatened people all over the world.  Refusing to accept their predicament, they willingly confront their adversaries.  Their strength of character mimics that of Moses, the champion of freedom and the defender of the downtrodden.  It is Moses, God’s spokesman, who leads our people to a place of physical freedom.  It is there, in the wilderness of Sinai, that they begin to refine their approach to life.


    Today, our world is in want of such a level of refinement and sensitivity.  We Jewish people have a long tradition of focusing on the positive.  How could the modern state of Israel have accomplished what it has without such a disposition? 


    In spite of the threat of terror we will remain upbeat and positive.  Despite the loss of life, today will move to create a better world tomorrow.  While faced with fear and pain today we must resolve to face adversity with a commitment to the blessing of life. 


    Our thoughts and prayers are extended to all those who have lost their life at the hands of these vicious terrorists.  Our faith in mankind is being threatened.  It is at times like these when we must redouble our efforts and our level of dedication to the pursuit of that which is right and just and good. 


    May our world that is reeling from pain find healing and comfort in the days to come.


    Shabbat Shalom,


    Rabbi Stefan J. Weinberg