D’VAR TORAH| JULY 24, 2014

As I write these words, many of us have one eye on the news streaming in from Israel. Today, a group of terrorists were found as they came through a tunnel with numerous deadly weapons including RPGs and other heavy artilery intent upon infiltrating and terrorizing a Jewish city.
A few days ago, the Hamas terrorist group issued false missile warnings hoping to send terrorists into bomb shelters in Tel Aviv to murder civilians gathered there. Daily, there have been rockets coming, mainly from Gaza but some from Lebanon, Syria and even the Sinai.
Of course, we are thankful to G-d for His protection and to the army for their vigilance – but, when will it stop? When will there be peace? What can WE do to bring that long-awaited peace closer.
We are now in the midst of the period of the year known as “The Three Weeks.” This is the time that commemorates the destruction of the first and second Holy Temples in Jerusalem by our enemies and the exile of our people from our eternal homeland. How could G-d have allowed such a terrible thing to occur?
The Sages explain that prior to the destruction of the Temple, our people lost their feelings of respect for one another. Ill feelings grew among our people. It got so bad that there was a feeling of baseless unwarranted hatred between Jews. When G-d saw this, He was so disappointed that He sort of just backed away.
Still G-d did not allow our enemies to destroy us, but only to destroy the building which symbolized our special status and closeness to Him. We were exiled across the world with a mission to make the world a better place and to be a light unto the nations.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe taught, “If unwarranted hatred is what caused the destruction of the Temple, then it will take unwarranted love to become deserving of the Temple once more.” Acts of kindness, respect, love and friendship are exactly what will tip the scales and make us deserving of the Temple once more.
So what can we do? How best to remember the Yeshivah students that were kidnapped and killed as they went home to celebrate Shabbos with their family, or the other many victims? As is written in the Shema Yisroel prayer “you shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up.”
In this vein I encourage the community to ensure all children receive a solid foundation of Jewish education. Funds are being allocated to secure scholarship grants for students in need of assistance in procuring a full day Jewish school program. These funds are in memory of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad. As new children attend school and study about Torah and Israel, the murdered children will be memorialized in the best way possible.
But that alone is not enough. Each person can help Israel by adding a mitzvah to his/her regular practice, thereby making us more deserving of Moshiach (the messiah) and the era of peace and good will that He will usher into the world.
It might be lighting a Shabbos candle or putting on teffilin, saying the Shema Yisroel prayer, or just finding someone in need and reaching out to that person with an act of kindness.
Every positive action we do brightens the world, just as a small flame can dispel a world of darkness the darkness every mitzvah we do dispels the darkness of our world. Every mitzvah and act of kindness we do makes the world a better place and helps us fulfill our role as a light unto the nations and usher in the coming of the messianic era.
We offer prayers for safety and peace in Israel and throughout the world.
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Shabbat candles should be lit on Fridays, July 25 at 8:41 p.m.; August 1, 8:35 p.m.; August 8, 8:28 p.m.; August 15, 8:19 p.m.; August 22 at 8:10 p.m. and August 29, 8 p.m.
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Editor’s note: Rabbi Chaim Litvin, a local emissary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, has volunteered to provide Torah commentaries for Community.

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