Mar 02 2017 Dvar Torah

Rabbi Becker-270x306
Rabbi Israel Becker

Transforming Fear

Every experience in life, even the undesirable, is an opportunity from which to learn and grow. As an illuminating role model for generations to come, our patriarch, Jacob, in Genesis-Bereishis 32 taught us that worry and fear can be harnessed to generate positive, productive energy. As American Jews we have become increasingly concerned over recent acts of anti-Semitism. This Monday’s scare and 2-hour lockdown of our own Jewish Community Center certainly has brought those fears closer to home.

These hostile expressions of anti-Semitism remind us once again that those who are disturbed by our mere existence group us all together. Let us transform their message of hatred towards us by working hard to love one another among out local, national, and worldwide Jewish communities.

Of course threats to our safety and security are unnerving, but looking back at our centuries-long presence in America, we as Jews have never been targeted this way. Now, more than ever, we need to focus on and appreciate the blessings that America has bestowed upon us.

There have been times in Jewish history where it has appeared as though G-d’s presence may be missing. We as a people nevertheless have remained steadfast in our confidence that G-d cares and watches over us. That faith is the core message of Purim, which Jews all over the world will soon joyfully celebrate.

In this week’s Portion, G-d lovingly presents us with the commandment to build a sanctuary, “so that I may dwell among you.” G-d seeks to be close to us. It behooves us, especially in times like these, to bring ourselves closer to Him. If our relationship with G-d remains stagnant, then in a sense, we might be ignoring a message and missing an opportunity.