7 Cheshvan 5781 / Sunday, October 25, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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For me, the recent pictures of Sadam Hussein brought back memories of the Gulf War that took place over a decade ago. It was a nightly ritual – the eerie...


For me, the recent pictures of Sadam Hussein brought back memories of the Gulf War that took place over a decade ago. It was a nightly ritual – the eerie wail of the siren piercing the quiet; rushing to awaken the children; running into our tiny sealed room (how did we ever think that we could protect ourselves with scotch-tape?); my youngest sitting in her sealed crib, staring wide-eyed at her brothers and sisters donning their masks; counting the seconds as we waited to hear either an explosion or an announcement that the missile had landed; removing the masks, while remaining in our sealed room for the all-clear siren. Yes, we prayed –oh, and how we prayed -- but we also tried to make it fun for the children, with ongoing games and lots of coloring books, songs and tons of candies (the dentist gained from that war!).
And then, it was over – on, of all days, Purim! Signs were posted throughout the city informing us that Sadam, the modern-day reincarnation of Haman, had been hung. We joked that our masks were now part of the Purim costume, and very happily returned them to their gaily decorated boxes (yes, the children spent a lot of time decorating those boxes, especially since they were required to carry them where ever they went) which we duly placed in the very back of our bedroom closet, hopefully to be never taken out again.
The masks, deemed obsolete, have been returned to the Home Command. But the threat still exists, only now it's a nuclear, rather than a chemical threat. May Hashem protect us!
Holiness Vanquishes Evil
Several years ago, I read an article that shook me to the core. A leading Palestinian terrorist wrote that he had come to the conclusion that the Palestinian cause would never succeed, and that they should give up hope of ever conquering Israel – until he spent six months in an Israeli prison and saw the Jewish guards eating sandwiches on Pesach. He was surprised, and asked them why they were eating chametz. Didn't they know that the Torah forbids eating leaven on Pesach?
They replied that they didn't believe in that stuff. The terrorist wrote that if the Jews don't believe in "that stuff," in other words, they don't believe in God, then he was positive that (God forbid) the Israelis could be vanquished, and there was reason to continue to fight for Palestine.
They know the truth! Yes, on a physical plane we must do everything necessary to protect ourselves, but any physical threat is a reflection of a spiritual lacking. The modern day Hitlers are bent on destroying our essence, our unique connection to the Almighty. When they perceive a weakness in that relationship, they go directly for the jugular vein, to try to cut off our life blood.
Someone recently told me that she had accompanied a group of high school students to the concentration camps in Eastern Europe. Standing next to the crematorium, the guide asked the young people a hypothetical question. If someone were to discover that Hitler (may his name be eradicated) was alive, what would be a fitting punishment. The answers ranged from the simple (an electric-chair) to the gory (cubed and…). Finally one very perceptive youngster said, "I would take Hitler and show him every yeshiva and Bais Yaakov in existence." This young person understood that Hitler was bent on destroying the essence of our people – our connection to anything holy. His entire essence was evil, so his greatest sorrow would be to see that holiness is still very much in existence! 
But what does all that have to do with us?
Rebbe Nachman says (ADVICE, peace:2) "… When a person develops genuine fear of Heaven, he can attain peace within himself. Through this he is able to pray. And prayer leads to the second kind of peace – universal peace, where there is peace in all the worlds."
When we have genuine fear of Heaven, we are able to pray, and our prayers will bring about universal peace. When we are on a genuinely elevated spiritual level, we have the power to bring an end to evil! In other words when we, as a collective group of individuals, are spiritually strong (and a spiritually strong person will obviously pray for the end of evil), all the Sadams will disappear. But the moment they perceive a chink in our spiritual armor, they are out to get us.
Rome wasn't built overnight. It takes time to become spiritual giants. But we'll never get there if we don't start walking in that direction. Each of us should take on one tiny thing, nothing big, towards attaining that goal. God willing, I hope to begin with reciting the Birkat Hamazon from a bentcher, rather than from memory. I would like to hear from you, dear readers. Please tell me what you are doing to bring a bit more holiness to the world. There's a real war taking place, and we must do our part to combat the true enemy.

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