Beheadings and Rosh Hashana
by Rabbi Aron Moss
I am so freaked out by these beheadings in the Middle East. And now terrorists had a plan to behead a random victim on the streets of Sydney. It could have been anyone. Am I supposed to feel safe leaving my house now? Just because this plot was thwarted, doesn't mean there isn't another one around the corner. I am almost considering not going to shul this Rosh Hashana....
Terrorists don't just want to behead you, they want you to lose your head. If you panic, you make yourself into their victim. Rather than retreat and let them win, you need to fight back.
The world is facing one of those historical moments, where true evil has arisen and needs to be vanquished. While we are not all fighting a military battle, we must all stand up to fight the spiritual battle. For evil will be conquered by opposing it with the force of goodness.
If the villains of today are using beheading as their tactic, we must counter that with an equal and opposite force. We have a response to those who would have us lose our heads. We have Rosh Hashana, the head of the year.
Jewish wisdom has long taught that the human mind is both the most dangerous weapon of mass destruction, and the most powerful force for goodness. Ideology is what drives the worst evildoers of history to kill, and ideology inspires the supreme doers of goodness to save lives. It's all in the head.
Evil ideas thrive in a moral vacuum. When a society loses its moorings, forgets its own values, fails to teach its beliefs and neglects to provide a compelling worldview, it is left headless, directionless, and vulnerable. This is what the terrorists are telling us with their beheadings: "You westerners have no head, no backbone, no idea. We will beat you, because unlike you, we know what we believe and are willing to fight for it."
We cannot afford to have no beliefs, no ideology, and laze in the sun. We need to get our head straight. We need Rosh Hashana.
Rosh Hashana is the day G-d created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, endowed them with a divine soul, and blessed them that they be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with goodness. G-d gave us life, so we can bring life to others. G-d gave us a soul so we can make our world into a divine haven. These simple truths, if we are willing to stand up for them, have the power to vanquish the cult of death that stands against us.
Go to shul this Rosh Hashana with confidence in your beliefs, clarity in your values, faith in G-d's goodness, and your head on straight.