Rabbi Moishy's tips and insights during the war in Israel

This will be updated on a rolling basis for as long as necessary.

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Posted 10/12/23

A message for young Jews on campus and everywhere:

My dear brothers and sisters,
Do you feel afraid today? Waking up each morning with a pit in your
stomach, wishing once again that the recent massacre in Israel was only a
nightmare, knowing that despite our every hope and prayer it's all too real?

So do I. We thought the horrors of Jewish history—pogroms, mass
murder, captivity—were just that: history. But we were wrong.
Hamas’s attack on Israel was a small-scale Holocaust, a moment no Jew
alive with the tiniest speck of communal feeling will ever forget. Faced with
that realization, how can we not live in fear? Especially when our collective
cries of horror and revulsion are met with indifference, evasion, and even
opposition, by our friends, classmates, and administrators? How can we
share dormitories, classrooms and ideas with students who
would make excuses or even celebrate if we and our families
were hacked to death by a Hamas terrorist tomorrow?

There is an answer to this question, one as old as our people. For anti-
semitism is the world's oldest hatred; it has existed since the days of
Pharaoh, and will last until the end of our bitter spiritual exile. Though we
live in an age of exalted principles and ideals—equality, human
rights, individual dignity, democracy, and the rule of law, among
others—none of these values has succeeded in eradicating the
world's profound willingness to visit senseless evil upon Jews for
no reason other than their Judaism. We must be thankful for the
incredible progress the world has made, but we cannot blind ourselves to
that reality or pour our energy into engaging with those who hate
us in the hopes of changing their hearts and minds.

What, then, is the answer to our fears? Remembering who we
are: the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Sarah, Rebecca,
Rachel and Leah. Each of our patriarchs and matriarchs fought with
courage to live as Jews, and their example has reminded us through the
generations what it means to stand up against banal hatred
with pride, dignity, and resilience. We are the People of the Book:
outlasting our persecutors across eras and empires through our
devotion and dedication to our dearest values and most sacred
beliefs, a living Torah spanning all our generations.

We are the descendants of those who survived the Spanish Inquisition,
the Chmielnicki Massacres, the Russian gulags, and the Nazi concentration
camps, among so many other horrors, with their homes and families
devastated but their link to the Jewish people unbreakable. For
the past 75 years we returned to our ancestral home in the Land of Israel
and restored Jewish sovereignty after two millennia of dispersion.
We will never be defeated by terror. When it comes to terrorism,
a Jew is an armored tank. We must remember that we are
constantly protected by the unbroken chain of our heritage, our
covenant, our faith, our unity as a people, and our essential
connection to G‑d and the Torah. 

Yes, a barbaric attack on innocent civilians in Israel shakes us to our core.
But deep down we are not afraid. We are full of purpose: to stand up
for what is right, to condemn unspeakable cruelty, to comfort
those around us, to repair brokenness through deeds of
goodness and kindness, to light up the world with mitzvah after
mitzvah, and to live with truth and integrity as proud members
of the Jewish people.

So tomorrow, when you feel the fear sinking in, remind yourself: I am a
Jew, bold as a leopard, swift as an eagle, fleet as a deer, and strong as a lion!
Gird yourself with that strength, and go out to conquer the day. For our
people need you now more than ever, and you have so much to contribute.
One shining day, the Jewish people will remember how, together, with
conviction and purpose, we rid the world of terror and ushered in a new era
of peace and joy.

Written by Emmett Gilles

Posted on 10/11/23

QUESTION: Rabbi - how can I deal with all the justification and pro-Hamas stuff I'm seeing online?

RESPONSE: Every single murderer of civilians has believed in a narrative that justified their heinous act. Part of the distortion in evil is that it believes it is good.

High school shooters have a narrative.

Rebel militias in third-world countries have a narrative.

Terrorists of all stripes have a narrative.

The Nazis had a narrative, as did every murderous totalitarian government in history.

The narrative always places the murderers in the position of the hero, the courageous warrior who will set things right once and for all. Even if it costs them their own lives. Bravery!

As cynical a transfiguration as you'll ever see. A deep lie where down is up and dark is light.

And every murderer is eventually surprised to discover that their intended victims, and good people in general, don't see things the same way. Shocked to discover that they may be the bad guy and not the hero.

The idea to remember is that evil is not good. Evil exists so that good can overcome it.

Here's the idea: If you were only good when evil was not present, when there was no challenge, it's a more superficial type of good. A good that overcomes and even transforms evil is the deepest form of good.

As time passes, the forces of good get stronger and stronger, dealing with progressively deeper levels of evil as we "check off" overcoming lesser levels of evil.

And the more good that you embody, the greater the "threat" you present to evil.

Do not let evil trick you into thinking that your goodness is bad. And make sure to respond to any evil by doubling down on everything good and holy. This is the ultimate battlefield.

By strengthening our connection to Hashem, the ultimate Good, which we can do through Torah study, doing mitzvos, and emulating Him through kindness and generosity on all levels, we are forever empowered to stick the light to the darkness, no matter how deep and twisted the darkness becomes.

On that note, please join the campaign for a Million Mitzvos for Israel at onemitzvah.org/israel.

We are the bringers of light. Don't let the darkness make you forget it for a second.


(Based on my understanding of the Rebbe's talks on Shabbat Bereishit, 5749-1988, and Likkutei Sichos vol. 20, Bereishit 1.)

Here are some tips for managing stress and anxiety during this difficult time. Incredible advice from an Israeli psychologist translated from Hebrew:

1. Update yourself sparingly and only when necessary.

The obsessive updating on networks and news provides us with a sense of control - an illusion of control. As though if we are constantly updated, we do something about it. In fact not only does it not do or help anyone, but the opposite. We weaken and tire ourselves and leave no strength for ourselves and our loved ones who need us now.

The right thing is to update sparingly. Two or three times a day.

2. Feeling guilty - if we are not connected to the news 24/7 we may feel guilty. Similar to "survivors' guilt" for losing their loved ones/ facing the inferno and we are "privileged": Therefore we express support by connecting to the news. Again, in practice, we only weaken ourselves.

3. The videos and testimonies of our enemies that we are currently exposed to are greater than our souls can contain. It is important that we remember that our soul is precious and how important it is to protect it and not to destroy it with creepy information assuming that it will be alright. It is suggested to treat our soul as an "external entity" that we need to protect and take care of. Just as we prefer to avoid eating extreme junk food and the like for our bodies, this is the junk food of the soul and we should pay attention to what we put into it and in what dosage.

4. Try to create a routine within this lack of routine. Give yourselves small daily tasks. Do not be angry with ourselves and that it is difficult for us to function optimally at the moment.

5. Take breaks and do things that are distracting. Play, listen to music, do some physical activity, watch a movie. Pray. This is how we actually ventilate the soul.

6. Being together. To be and talk with people who do us good.

7. Think how I can help. Even in the smallest thing. What do I have to give to others? The feeling that I helped someone is very important and helpful.

8. Avoid creating post-trauma - even exposure to difficult content such as a video or photo can cause post-trauma. It is important to talk about it. To share again and again what we saw and what we experienced. The very repetition and sharing helps to process.

9. Remembering that all people need others to be with them and have someone who can listen. It’s not necessary to say "it will be fine". Even if it's not okay, what's important to remember is that we will get through it, bezrat Hashem.