Blogger Yaacov Ben Moshe is an essayist whose thoughts are well worth reading. In this post, he ruminates on Mumbai and its significance, as well as his rage at the following bumper sticker, which he saw recently on a car in Newton Massachusetts:
I share his disgust with those who would display such a banner with the intent of annoying the “God Bless America” folks. I have no patience with those who ignore our strengths, and whose reflexive position is to revile most of America’s actions while employing a double standard for the rest of the world.
I most strongly share his rage at the Islamic terrorists, who cold-bloodedly murdered so many innocents in Mumbai to no purpose but their own nihilistic yearnings and their desire to punish infidels and strike fear into the hearts of anyone associated with the West. I especially deplore and despise their sadistic torture of many of their victims (evidence is that they saved the worst torture for the Jews).
Ben Moshe wonders about other aspects of the sentiment expressed in the bumper sticker:
What does that mean? Does it mean they would call down God’s blessing on the stinking swine who apparently did their reconnaissance in the Chabad House by posing as travelers and accepting the food, hospitality and blessings of the Rabbi and his family while they plotted their torture and death?
Does it mean that they can see no moral or spiritual difference between the Rabbi who welcomed and served them with an open heart and the filthy, lying murderers who rewarded his kindness by killing his wife before him and letting him suffer her death, tenderly wrapping her body in his prayer shawl, before murdering him?
I know enough about the Left and its moral relativism towards the excesses of third world countries and peoples, and especially about those who adopt terrorist causes as their own pet projects, to know that Ben Moshe is correct about some of the people who would place this bumper sticker on their cars. But I hereby offer another (and yes, a kindler, gentler) explanation for at least some the rest.
The word “bless” can be interpreted in other ways than simply equating the worthiness of murderers with that of innocents. It is possible to ask for a blessing for one’s enemies (and if the word “enemy” has any meaning at all—and I most definitely believe it does—these people are our enemies) without such moral equivalence. For example, it would be a blessing if the terrorists’ hearts were opened to the light of respect for the religion of others. It would be a blessing if terrorists realized that the wanton murder of innocents and torture of same are wrong. Such a change would be an enormous blessing not just for the rest of us, but for the terrorists themselves.
It is a matter of personal belief whether one thinks such a basic change in a human being can be accomplished by prayer. I submit, however, that many religious people do indeed think so, and that this is a possible (and far more benign) interpretation of the bumper sticker Ben Moshe found so offensive.
But even for those who believe in the power of prayer, it is clear that we cannot wait around for such a profound transformation to take effect through prayer alone. Fortunately, prayer and action are not mutually exclusive. We must take multiple and varied actions in the world to seek out terrorists and prevent them from being able to cause new horrors such as those in Mumbai.