Sara Gopin, Beis Moshiach
The tragic escalation of hate crimes has prompted me to share my recent story and its implications. Several weeks ago, I arrived in New York from Israel and made my first visit to 770, where I had the privilege to daven Mincha. While the warmth and vitality lingered on, I kissed the mezuza and then gave tzedaka to two people outside just before entering the subway station on Kingston avenue. In this manner, I try to fortify myself before leaving 770, my “comfort zone.” The 3 train came quickly, and I sat down and quietly said a few Tehillim. The feeling of security didn’t last too long…
As soon as the doors of the train opened at Atlantic avenue, I felt something as hard as a brick smashing into my left shoulder. After a split second, I saw that I had been struck with a bottle. I did not see the assailant but I assume that it was one of the rowdy kids in the train car who had just exited. Tears welled up in my eyes. Not one person in the car inquired if I was all right, which was an even bigger trauma than the blow itself. After the initial shock, I realized that this moment of humiliation was the most auspicious time for prayer. Yet strangely, it was a back-handed compliment that I was singled out to be attacked not for anything that I did, but because my presence is a reflection of the Divine.
Growing up in Riverdale, New York and going to high school in Manhattan, I was, unfortunately, very familiar with the dangers of the subway. I can never forget when I was with someone who was viciously mugged. When threatened with a knife one relinquishes their cash, the attacker is victorious, and it’s over. Hate crimes are of a different category altogether, as there is no possible way to satiate the appetite of those who represent the forces of evil. Nowadays, they are less drawn to grab the money of wealthy people, but to the righteous, who are vessels of light. Yet no human can ever take away any of the G-d given treasures inside of our neshama. When we are crushed our light gets even more refined and shines brighter. The recent victims of hate crimes are those who clearly identified as religious Jews and thus exemplify acts of kindness. This goodness that is our trademark is in stark contrast with the decadence of the contemporary world. It is a never-ending battle which is reaching its peak in this generation of Geulah.
Baruch Hashem, after a few days, the pain in my bruised shoulder subsided, but we all have tremendous heartache upon hearing about other innocent men, women and children who have been targeted and harmed. This a wake-up call!!! There is nothing more tragic than youth whose thrill is to attack innocent people. May the campaign of the Rebbe MH”M for a daily “moment of silence” to meditate on the Creator be instituted in every school around the world. We should do our best to publicize the Seven Noahide Laws, which is my mivtzoyim when I use public transportation. Most importantly, wherever we are, we must be examples of true, inner illumination. These hate crimes are actually generating just the opposite, a new wave of the deepest bonds of love and unity among people, and especially in Am Yisrael.
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