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Question of the Week:

Dear Rav Sperling,

I have been very upset to hear about all the terrorist attacks in Israel and abroad recently.

The recent one in Paris shook me particularly hard because it was close to where many people I love and care about live. Because of this I suggested to a group of religious Jewish friends to take on a learning project and organised a sign-up online.

However instead of signing up several friends complained that I was too worried about France when I should have been already doing something for the terrorism in Israel (I was in fact because there already was something organised for that that I had joined). My friends also mentioned that the attacks in Paris were not even targeted against Jews. And in the end only few people signed up to my project and I’m sad and confused.

Should we care more about people in Israel and not do anything for the victims in Paris? I did try and do the project in the memory of both. But then, is there value in doing something like this (Jewish) for the non-Jewish world as well?

Also because of the critical response of many people and the refusal to do anything as a result I feel like there is so much critical thinking and lack of compassion in the world. What can I do to correct that as just one person? I found it very hurtful and puzzling that my friends were so unwilling to make the time for Torah learning when this is happening in the world and so I feel at least I want to do all I can.


Firstly – my blessing to you. I can’t tell you how much getting your email means to me. Thank you.

This is a big topic – but let me say in short that a person lacking a love for all of humanity surely should worry that their love for their own nation is nothing more than egotistical self-love which is only the natural instinct to survive – and not that Godly trait of love, which comes from a true understanding of the unity of creation. We must arise from such a limited and limiting viewpoint to be able to stand above any limitation of the particular to see the vast scope of all mankind and our task therein.

Of course, this is not at the expense of our love of Israel, but rather elevates our particular love to a place where it is a vehicle for the good of all mankind. Where we desire that Israel will grow so that the fruits and flowers of our tree (the tree of life) should blossom – they being the flowers of the nations, and the fruits of the world. For what is barren tree, a fruitless vine?

In truth the attacks in Paris are an extension, and connected too, the heart of the world – the attacks in Israel. If the heart is wounded, will not the limbs tremor?

Continue your good works – and may the world be comforted for its sorrow and the light of Israel bring clarity to the darkness of evil.


-Rav Sperling