Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Good that Comes from Evil

It's hard to imagine any good coming from evil, but time and again we see it. For example, during the second Intifada, we saw the epitome of evil as innocent Israelis were maimed and murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but we also saw the epitome of good in the heroic efforts of fellow Israelis rushing to help the victims. On September 11, 2001, we again saw the epitome of evil as innocent Americans were maimed and murdered by Islamic terrorists, but we also saw the epitome of good in the heroic efforts of fellow Americans coming to the aid of the casualties.

Following a different kind of evil - natural disasters - we also witnessed the kindness of people coming to the aid of others. In 2004, the Asian tsunami prompted an overwhelming amount of generosity from around the world. The humanitarian response included billions of dollars in donations. Just recently, the Haiti earthquake has prompted a similar outpouring of support. Various countries have sent emergency crews to help in the recovery effort, and large amounts of money have been donated to provide food, water and medicine.

One of the organizations helping out is ZAKA. This group deserves special recognition because of the nature of their work. These are the Jewish volunteers who, among other tasks, meticulously gather human remains from the scenes of accidents and terror attacks so that victims can have a proper burial. This is known as chesed shel emet - true kindness, since there is no way for the dead to repay the living. Currently, ZAKA is helping non-Jews in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. It's a testament to the values of ZAKA that their volunteers have worked around the clock, even on Shabbat (Saturday), for the sake of saving human life. They represent the best of Judaism.

It's heartwarming to see the outpouring of support from around the world following natural disasters. However, when it comes to fighting Islamic terrorism, the "international community" is nowhere to be found. Not only that, but entities such as the United Nations consistently condemn countries (usually the United States and Israel) for fighting enemies who threaten their existence. This is upside-down thinking; instead of hating evil, they hate those who fight evil. King David put it eloquently: "Ohavei Hashem Sinu Ra" - those who love God must hate evil. There are many people who don't take this concept to heart. Although military action is always the last resort, we must do what is necessary to fight the evil of our time.

As anyone following current events knows, Iran is inching closer to a nuclear bomb. While Iran's tyrannical leaders hide behind the mantra of only being against "the Zionist regime," individuals with moral clarity know better. When Martin Luther King, Jr. overheard a Harvard student launch a tirade against Zionists, he duly noted: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism." Nevertheless, most of the world will condemn Israel if/when it takes action against the Iranian threat. Let's do our part to pursue goodness without waiting for something bad to happen first. One suggestion, ironically, can be learned from our enemies. Just as they wish to inflict harm on Jews both religious or secular, let's counteract their hatred by treating all Jews decently, regardless of one's level of observance.

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