Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, Dean of Students and Senior Lecturer at Diaspora Yeshiva, is not only a popular speaker and teacher, but also a dynamic thinker and writer. A student of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky and Harav Gedalia Schorr, Rabbi Sprecher was granted smicha (rabbinical ordination) by Torah Vodaath Yeshiva. Prior to his current position, Rabbi Sprecher was a professor of Judaic studies at Touro College in New York. In addition to his duties at Diaspora Yeshiva, Rabbi Sprecher writes a regular column on various Judaic topics in the Jewish Press, and lectures regularly at the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem.
How to Deal with the Terror Tunnels
Published: Thursday, December 13, 2018 09:42:46 AM
Number of views: 81

King David tells us in Tehillim 100, “to serve G-d with joy”. The Mishna in Avot 1 tells us that we should “greet and welcome everyone with a joyful countenance”. Avot D’Rabbi Natan 13 states that a happy and pleasant facial expression is considered equal to giving a person the most treasured gift in the world.

I just returned from a mini Chanukah vacation in Sholomi and Rosh Hanikra which is right next to the Lebanese border. The people there told us that for a long time they have been hearing the sounds of drilling and tunneling underneath their homes. And then next to the Gaza border there are also terror tunnels being dug constantly by Hamas. And this week there was another vicious terror attack next to the Ofra Junction that injured many people and caused the death of a premature infant.

So how is it possible to be in a joyful mood when we are surrounded by brutal Arab terrorists and savage murderers? The answer to this dilemma is found in the Book of Yirmiyahu. While most of the Book of Yirmiyahu contains prophecies of doom and destruction, we see some prophecies in which he speaks words of encouragement and comfort. In these prophecies how is Yirmiyahu’s message of consolation reinforced? How does he prove that G-d will bestow good on the Jewish People? Yirmiyahu states, “Just as I (G-d) brought evil, I also will bring eventual good”.

We see this concept of Yirmiyahu’s consolation at the end of Tractate Makot. Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues were walking on the Temple Mount, and they saw foxes come out of the place of the Holy of Holies. All the Rabbis began to cry, and Rabbi Akiva laughed. They asked him, “How can you laugh when you see foxes (terrorists) prowling on the Temple Mount and the Holy of Holies?” His colleagues said to him that this is the worst tragedy imaginable, “So how can you laugh?”

Rabbi Akiva answered, “Exactly for the reason that you Rabbis are crying, I am laughing. For I see how the words of Micha are being literally fulfilled when he says, “Foxes (terrorists) will prowl the Temple Mount”. Rabbi Akiva continued to console his colleagues, “Just like I see the tragic prophecies come true, so I also know that the wonderful prophecies of Zecharia will also be fulfilled“. “Old men and women and playful children shall yet dwell in the streets of Jerusalem” without the fear of being attacked by murderous Arab terrorists.

In other words, when we see our tragic current situation, it strengthens our faith in the coming of the Moshiach. These prophecies demonstrate that the same G-d who warned us that if we do evil, then evil will befall us, also promised us that He would redeem us and usher in a glorious future for Israel.

What about our current situation? How do we get rid of our fears of being attacked by vicious Arab terrorists? The Rambam in the Guide to the Perplexed addresses this problem. He writes, “Worrying about the past, has no benefit, and someone who frets over some trouble that has already passed, is senseless and foolish. It’s bad enough that such a person once had a tragedy, but he makes things worse by worrying about it after it has passed and gone.”

As for worrying about future troubles, that too, Rambam says is nonsense. It is possible that the trouble will come, and it is possible that the trouble will never come. G-d is all good, and whatever He sends a person is only for his ultimate good, even though we don’t always understand why or how.

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