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Are you thinking what I’m thinking? When you watch or read the news these days what’s going through your mind?

Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech in 1966 that included the following: There is a Chinese curse which says “May he live in interesting times.” Like it or not, we live in interesting times.

We are witnessing before our eyes a frightening showdown between the USA and Russia over a monstrous act committed by the Syrian regime. An enemy committed to the destruction of Israel is trying to establish a military presence on Israel’s very border.

Is this stuff really happening? It all seems surreal. It’s certainly frightening.

As Jews we always seem to be at the centre of the action. Or at least not too far from it. Unfortunately we’ve seen and sensed danger far too many times. Certainly more then any other people. Perhaps that is why our natural and instinctive response is to be afraid. Not again, we say. Why is it always us? Have we done anything wrong?

During the Gulf War in 1991 the Lubavitcher Rebbe conveyed the following message to many Jewish people who were afraid of the unfolding events at the time and of the potential impact it might have on Israel. He quoted a Midrash: G-d says to the Jewish people, “My children, Why are you afraid? All that I’m doing, I’m doing for your sake. Do not be afraid. The time of your redemption has arrived”.

Millions of our people in Israel and around the world have just celebrated “The Time of our Freedom”. The mystics explain that although the physical exodus from Egypt took place over three thousand years ago, the spiritual journey of freedom continues to this very day. As the saying goes “You can take the Jews out of exile, but can you take the exile out of the Jew”.

The question for our times is the following:

Are we the Jewish people able to release ourselves from the bondage of fear that envelops our people.

Are we the Jewish people able to stand upright and tall in our homeland to which we have returned after millennia, without ever having to apologize for it.

Are we the Jewish people able to defend ourselves against those who seek to destroy us without having to constantly justify our right to do so, to others and to ourselves.

Are we the Jewish people able to live proudly according to our convictions without having to look to the right or to the left or over our shoulders.

Let us once and for all break free from the shackles of exile that have inhibited the spirit of our people for two thousand years. The time for that is now!

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