The story of my stabbing

This is a beautiful evocation of what it means for Jews to be under attack in the Land of Israel. The writer, as he ruminates on the meaning of the attack on his person by a knife wielding assailant, concludes that his presence in Israel elevates the attack from just an example of violence, even anti-Semitic violence, to a kind of violence tinged with martyrdom and meaning. He resides in Israel for a purpose, the building of the Jewish Land and the Jewish People. The purpose he has in living in Israel gives the violent act inflicted upon him a kind of nobility; the purpose of living in Ha’aretz rescues acts of terror from the realm of randomness and emptiness and elevates them to the realm of shared meaning.

And what of the diaspora Jew singled out for violence on the streets of New York, Paris of London? Is there no redemptive meaning in attacks on Jews outside Ha’aretz? Something disturbing in the article must be faced. Is this just the old Zionist refrain that Jewish life in Galut is irretrievably deficient. Meaningful Jewish life can only be found in the Promised Land. It is arrogant to call Jewish life lived elsewhere than Israel, or lived in other ways than it is lived in Israel, empty or without Jewish significance.

And yet, what is the great purpose we diaspora Jews have that explains why we remain where we are? I think the purpose of Jewish life in the diaspora is the mandate we have to be an “or lagoyim,” a light for the nations. Our calling is to change the world and its inhabitants through our example and our work. A Jewish life devoted to “tikun olam,” repairing and changing and healing the brokenness of the world, is surely a life of the most profound meaning.

And if that is not the kind of Jewish life you are living, what then? —Rabbi Kerry Baker

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