Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivki were murdered, along with three other hostages, at the Chabad community center which they ran in Mumbai. And as much as I am hurting over their deaths, I am more devastated by the scope of the terror (over 160 dead and more than 350 wounded) than the fact that among them was a rabbi.
Even the fact that some appear to have been targeted because they were Jews does not make me so profoundly angry and sad. What is going on in Mumbai is bigger than that. And while I appreciate that fellow-blogger, Rod Dreher, focuses our attention on those victims who were probably killed because of their religion, that is not the point upon which to focus today. Nor is any broadside about Islamic Terrorism. Why? I’ll tell you.
Even if such analyses are correct, and in my opinion they are less correct than those who publish them believe them to be, and more correct than those who need to hear them will admit. But that’s the point. What good is accomplished with harangues that can not be meaningfully heard by those who may need to hear them most? And if they can not be hear they are nothing more than angry posturing – hardly what is needed at this moment.
As I wrote yesterday:
Now is not the time to justify, politic, or rationalize anything. But too many people seem not to know that. English newspapers repeatedly remind readers that the Rabbi is Israeli, as if that fact somehow mitigates the horror of his fate or lends some justification to the terrorists’ actions. Jihad Watch managed to post a headline which “explains” the events as a “natural outgrowth” of the deep hatred that is “intrinsic” to Islam. And multiple Muslim advocacy groups have sent out press releases calling on us to pay less attention to the dead and wounded and focus instead on the “root causes” of global terror in the name of Islam. It’s a real race to the bottom.
Now is the time for all of us watching these events from afar to do three things: pray for the safety of all people still involved in the Mumbai attacks, the full and speedy recovery of the injured and that all those burying their dead, find consolation in the face of their loss.
Frankly, I want time to feel the sadness and the loss before jumping to righteous indignation.
I want to honor the memory of Rabbi Holtzberg and Rivki who journeyed to India to create an open, warm, inviting home which welcomed all comers. Honor their memory with a random act of kindness, the kind that made up their daily work in Mumbai.
We need to hold off, for a few days at least, on the analyses which may force us into battles that are so painful. I have fought them and I know. We may have to have those battles, but before we do, I hope we can remember the words of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. He taught that in the face of senseless hatred we should show unreasonable love, in the face of tears we must laugh, and in the face death we must celebrate life.
Many families will be in mourning during the coming week, including those of Rabbi Gabi and Rivki. Let us honor them by living that teaching of Rabbi Kook, a spiritual giant who had roots in the same Chabad community which the departed couple served until the last moments of their too-short lives. May their memories be blessed.