The following is a letter from Rabbi Smith to Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Welton, January 16, 2020, in response to an invitation to Rabbi Smith from Rabbi Welton to participate in a rally against anti-semitism and racism.
B”H Thank you for the invitation, Rabbi Welton! I won’t be able to be there. As you know, the core is the knowing that there is an Eye that sees and an Ear that hears, that there is a Master of this Creation. All the tolerance won’t help if people don’t feel loved by their Creator and don’t feel that their Creator is counting on them to fulfill the Creator’s vision of creation. As the great Rabbi Ben-Tzion Welton says, the word for “fear” of G-d in Hebrew, is the same letters as the word for “Vision”, meaning to be G-d fearing means to see G-d vision. And once we see’s G-d’s vision, we want to make it real. The Rebbe explained that the presence of the police on street corners creates the appearance of a law-abiding population. But if children have not been educated that there is a G-d and that they are created in G-d’s image, then once the police are not there, then there is just chaos, the chaos we are seeing now. What we are seeing now as attacks on Jewish people is shocking but black populations have been living with this violence in their own communities for decades. As soon as the police are gone, there is no restriction on what people will do. And, now we see clearly that as the decline in moral education accelerates, people are willing to even attack the police. What we are seeing today that shocks us is the real life effect of unmooring large parts of the human population from a moral compass, from a sense that their Creator is watching and listening to everything they do. So the answer is not more police, the answer is the ability of a human being to police himself, to conduct himself at all times and all places in a way that reflects the human being that he is, a child of G-d. And, that requires education and we need to make up for all the years that G-d has been removed from our school systems, and all the human suffering that that has caused. Focusing on the past will produce no results other than resentment which breeds nothing but hatred and violence. Blaming others only breeds hatred and violence. The key is the present moment, where are we in our relationship with G-d? What will I do today to bring the message of G-d’s love to every person listening and who I can reach? There is only one place that that moral compass has been found for humanity unchanged for thousands of years, shining its light into the darkness, no matter how great the opposition and no matter how great the decimation. That is the Torah, the word of G-d. And it is our responsibility, the responsibility of the Jewish people, to carry forth that education. Instead of those who have been misguided to fight to remove G-d from our schools and government, we need more awareness of G-d in our moment to moment lives, and making the children aware of their sanctity. That starts with a moment of silence every day for every child in every school, starting today. We need a government that is more infused with a Divine integrity. And just like the message of today is that the young people take matters into their own hands, instead of us religious leaders spending weeks and months campaigning and persuading government and school leaders to “allow” a moment of silence, the children themselves should demand a moment of silence, a pause from whatever the school has on its agenda, a pause from whatever social media has to say. And they should demand that and do that, just stop at the beginning of the day and make a moment of silence. No school teacher or administrator has the right, the power or the ability to stop the children from taking that moment of silence. I am calling on the children to take matters into their own hands. Don’t fool ourselves into thinking that people will still do the right thing without G-d. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that the cause of the Holocaust was the removal of G-d from the German school system in the decades leading to the Holocaust. Once stripped of absolute Divine right and wrong, human intellect can justify anything. And that is what the Nazis did, their human intellect classified the elderly, the terminally ill and the disabled as “lives unworthy of life” and eliminated them. And then that expanded to the Jews. And it would have continued to more and more people, G-d forbid. So don’t get distracted by the anti-semitism - the Holocaust was the product of people lost in their own human thinking and logic combined with a government powerful enough to carry out those perverted thoughts. Terrorism and violence is a powerful psychological tool in the hands of those who seek power. In the violence that led to the Nazis consolidating their power in Germany it was the street violence that led many to see the militarized police as the solution. It was the attacks on outlying Jewish communities that was used to convince the Jews to move into concentrated population centers, the ghettos, which became easy shipping points for the Holocaust. We have to be careful to examine what reactions we are herded into in response to the recent attacks - more police, more cameras, fears about being openly Jewish. There are some who are mistakenly calling for the use of the National Guard. The dangerous increase in government power is the greater threat. Terrorists can only kill a few hundreds, G-d forbid, but governments, and only governments, can kill millions, G-d forbid. Therefore, more police is not the real answer because it is only a bandaid - it only works while the police are there and only works as long as the police are respected. And the militarized society becomes a danger to the citizens. The real answer is to see the wakeup call for humanity gone astray - all of us have gone astray. Even those of us who have a good working relationship with G-d, have been astray because we let our fellow humans go astray and sat silent as generation after generation of humanity has been deprived of knowing about G-d and living G-d’s vision. So let every child know that there are seven general principles that G-d wants us to guide our lives with: 1. Know that there is only One G-d and there is no other force or power in the world, G-d that loves every one of us and that He has a vision for us and all of Creation. 2. Don’t revolt against G-d. 3. Don’t take the life of another human being. 4. Don’t take the property of another human being. 5. Don’t use our Divine creative energy in non-creative ways or ways that breach our commitments. 6. Don’t disrespect animals and eat their limbs while they are alive. 7. Establish courts of justice with judges who are competent and able to enforce these laws. And, let every child make happen his own moment of silence in his classroom to reflect on his life, his relationships and his Creator.