Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A "previously unheard-of terrorist group"

We now have a new kid on the terror-monger block, the so-called "Decca Mujahideen". They're the amoral beasts who wreaked havoc in Mumbai and slaughtered six of our own in the city's Chabad House.

It seems as if each time there's a new terror attack in the world, there's a new group that pops up with it.

Honestly, I find it difficult to believe that a fledgling group tucked away in a Pakistani village has the capacity or resources to train and arm the professional assault team that attacked India's financial capital last week.

Around the world, governments and anti-terror agencies are being distracted by the "previously unheard-of" group theory. These shop-front splinter cells are simply a deflection from the big-daddy, mega-terror states and ideologies that sponsor them.

But, I'm not an expert on geopolitics nor on terrorism and don't believe a short vent here will solve these problems.

I do believe that our inner worlds reflect whatever plays out on the global stage- and that is where we need to focus our attention.

Each of us has a core of goodness, values and integrity. We also have a distracting side that will do anything to mislead and confuse us. It's the old Yetzer Tov (good inclination) v. Yetzer Horah (evil inclination) scenario.

You try to develop your spiritual side, but your negative impulses kick in- pulling in any direction but the one you know you should follow.

With minimal focus, you can identify your enemy. He's the one telling you how tired you are, how busy you are, how unrealistic your spiritual expectations are. When you know your enemy, you can remain alert to his attacks and commit yourself to thwarting them.

Of course, your internal enemy does not simply continue using old strategies, keeping himself in your sights and allowing you easy access to self-development.

Just when you think you've brought peace to your personal world, a "new" group attacks. If you've become a little more frum, you're suddenly hit with the "holier-than-thou" challenge; once you've mastered keeping your mouth shut and not spreading all that juicy gossip, your judgmental mind comes to life.

If you're not thinking, you could fall for the gag that you've conquered the serious areas of inner-struggle and now have a "new group" to address. If you are thinking, you'll appreciate that any small assault on your spiritual growth is sponsored by the mega-terrorist within. Until you've uprooted him, you'll keep on battling.

How do you oust your Innerdinejad?

Darkness runs from light. Concentrating your energies on fighting your frailties will tire you out. Investing extra energy in doing even more of the right stuff will empower you- and weaken your enemies.

Friday, December 05, 2008


This has been the longest week to have ever flown by. Each day has brought a blur of news reports, countless blog-tributes and heart-searing images that will be indelibly etched in all our memories.

I boarded a plane at JFK airport last Wednesday, soaring on the high of a spectacular Chabad rabbi's convention. The world was still intact.

I crash landed as I walked our of the airport in Johannesburg and heard the unspeakable news. Instead of my usual routine of catching my wife up on the stories, encounters and "farbrengens" of my annual NY recharge, we both stayed glued to our Tehillim (Psalm) books and Internet.

Moments before Shabbos, we got the confirmation we wanted to never hear...

Last week, with exacting precision, darkness incarnate pierced the warmth of Chabad Mumbai and the hearts of Jews around the world. Six of our brothers and sisters were brutally cut down in what was always a haven in the madness of India’s financial centre.

Only now, the haze is lifting somewhat, the jumble of emotion beginning to come into focus. While there was so much to say, there was nothing I could say for the last week.

The dam wall is cracking, thoughts cascading out along with an urgency to do; to make a difference.

Considering the meticulous planning that preceded this attack, you have to wonder why they selected the modest Chabad House rather than the magnificent (and more central) Knesseth Eliyahoo Shul. Built in 1884, it is certainly more of a Jewish icon than Nariman House.

Knesseth Eliyahoo represents the Judaism that was, while Chabad housed Judaism with a future. The Chabad House and its dedicated directors brought Judaism to life in an otherwise dwindling community. Pharaoh’s ghost has returned to try once more to eradicate the promise of a Jewish tomorrow.

Yet, Pharaoh is again trounced as baby Moshe is plucked from the clutches of savagery; as his family swears he will one day return to lead the Jewish community in Mumbai; as world Jewry unites in an unprecedented fashion and pledges to add light in a world turned dark.

I remember, in the 80’s when the Rebbe called on us all to name our private homes Chabad Houses. He even wanted us to hang “Chabad House” signs on our front doors.

"Chabad House" is not a restricted brand, Chabad Shliach (emissary) is not an elite club. It’s time to take up the challenge: use your home as a hospitality base, invite your friends and family to do an extra Mitzvah.

Become the phoenix that rises with greater force each time they try to destroy us.