A moment of silence

Friday, 3 May, 2019 - 7:07 am

Like most of you, as of last Friday I didn’t know who Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein is. Like almost everyone, I had never heard about Laurie Kay Hy”d, and I didn’t know that there is a city named Poway in California. But the Rebbe knew Rabbi Goldstein, knew that there is such a place as Poway and that there are not a few “Laurie Kays” who need Judaism in their lives. On December 12th 1980 Poway was declared a city and in 1986 Rabbi Goldstein was sent there and opened a Chabad House.

Like everyone, I view Rabbi Goldstein with much admiration. It seems that this person never gets confused; is always focused, whether when walking into the gunfire in order to save as many congregants as possible, or when refusing to be removed from the scene until everything has calmed down. He even remained standing on a chair facing the congregation, with his hand bandaged with a blood-soaked tallit covering his amputated fingers, and called to his flock to never to recoil or be afraid. One can see that this man is infused – to his fingertips – with a clear and sharp faith in the Torah, with love for other Jews and with faith in the G-d of the Jews.

Like many millions, I too watched his speech on the White House lawn, and there too, he remained focused. He knows exactly who he is, who sent him there and for what purpose. His goal is clear to him, and he knows how he is going to make use of the few minutes given to him in front an audience of millions. It seems he never heard the term “politically correct”. He stands there, tie-less and without any airs, in a chassidic coat showing signs of matzah and the four cups of wine, and, using his bandaged hands, he asks for a moment of silence. Why a moment of silence?

This is what the Rebbe said on the 11th of Nissan, 5744, 1984, about two years before the Chabad House opened in Poway: “In the month of spring the renewal of the entire creation happens; as you can see, during this period the trees and the grasses etc. start to bloom, and this is reflected in halacha as well – ‘He who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees blooming, makes the blessing,Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the World, Who didn’t leave anything out of his world, and created in it good creations and good trees for the pleasure of human beings’. This is a special blessing connected with the renewal of the world. And therefore this is the most fitting time to act so that the running of the entire world – which is being renewed during this period – will be based on justice and honesty.”

How will we act upon the world, so that it will be run according to justice and honesty? Through the young people. How will we influence the young people? By instilling in them the simple faith in the Creator of the World, Who hears and sees everything. And how will we instill within them this simple recognition? Not by talking or persuading, and certainly not through shouting. Yes, by silence. It’s always good to be silent for a bit. “A moment of silence” every morning, sixty seconds during which the child will stop and think about the Creator of the World, about the wonderful world that He created, about how he is here for a certain purpose, and mainly, that Hashem can see and hear anything; He even reads thoughts. To quote the Rebbe: “The advantage of thinking is that it doesn’t have to ‘imitate” another, and there is no need to fear the other, because no one knows what one is thinking – besides the Creator of the World and its ruler.” Because simple faith in the fact that there is a ruler to the world – that and only that has the power to influence a person to act right even when there is no policeman around, and to be honest even when no one is watching.

And then the Rebbe continues and asks to establish a “moment of silence” in all schools – of all types, ethnicities, religions, nations – and in a few words he gives a wonderful guideline to his chassidim how to do it right: “When one comes to do an act whose point is to fulfill the will of the Creator – one must remember that the Creator wants it done pleasantly and peacefully, bringing hearts closer, and certainly not from a place of war and victory.” One can tell that Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein is quite well versed in his Rebbe’s writings.

Not only the children – the parents will be influenced by this as well, because they will be the ones who will have to explain to their children how to make good use of this moment of silence, “so that together with the material food – a sandwich – which one gives a child when he goes to school, they will feed him some spiritual food as well – the recognition of the Creator of the World and its Ruler, which is the only guarantee that people will behave according to the rules of justice and honesty.”

Rabbi Goldstein, I salute you!

Shabbat Shalom, and have a healthy summer,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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