From Darkness to Light and a Sweet Year to All


October 3, 2005

Remember us for life, O living G-d, Inscribe us in the book of life.

These words from the Rosh Hashanah liturgy are articulated simply in unembellished prose. We want life, a gift that is G-d’s alone to give, and so we pray for it, we ask for it, in the plainest, most understood terms.

We will ask for this again this Rosh Hashanah, perhaps with more fervor now, as the sun sets on a detritus of grief and sorrow. We will ask for life, we will ask to be spared the kinds of disasters against which human intelligence and technological achievements in the 21st century, have proven helpless.

The images of destruction were real and immediate, and devastating enough to effect a crushing, even paralyzing resignation to our vulnerability against the wrath of nature and the viciousness of man-made evil.

But resignation that leaves us immobile to act only adds insult to injury, failing, as it does, to redeem the death and suffering of those who are no longer here to take action.

Jewish tradition ascribes a direct correlation between destruction and renewal, pain and growth, loss and gain. At the close of a year that has thinned out populations, dislocated others, and disbursed grief in generous measure, this is more than a comforting thought. It is a directive that tells us that in the aftermath of these tragedies, it now falls to each of us who has been spared, to bear the burden of the lessons to be taken. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was emphatic about it, maintaining that even the darkest experiences must be transformed into opportunities for growth.

Chabad-Lubavitch has taken this lesson to heart. With each of these tragedies, our Shluchim acted courageously to save lives, to rebuild, and to revive. Witness Chabad’s response to the tsunami; to Hurricane Katrina; to terror victims in Israel. Chabad-Lubavitch invested itself and all of its resources fully toward rescue and relief aid to the affected populations.

The response by Chabad shluchim was instinctive. Impressive in its scope and responsiveness, it was nonetheless, altogether in keeping with our tradition’s claim that a life saved is a universe saved.

“Chabad saves lives,” said President Bush in a recent speech to he gave to tthe Republican Jewish Coalition.

It was a good sound bite. More importantly, it succinctly expressed the mission of Chabad-Lubavitch today. wishes all of our Shluchim the strength to continue their inspiring work of saving lives—physically and spiritually. To them, to all of our readers, and to the whole of Klal Yisrael, may you be inscribed in the book of life.

A sweet and good year!

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