Fear and Self-Righteousness

Rabbi Misha Shulman
5 min readOct 27, 2023
Praying for a good year on Rosh Hashanah

My favorite moment at our Shabbat two weeks ago, which fell on World Jihad Day, was when I asked whether people were scared to come, and Ricky, a community elder, with no hesitation yelled out “No!” About half of the crowd had their hands raised, admitting they came despite their fears. Fear showed itself to be a prominent feature of this war from the very beginning. While Arab Americans who have spoken their opinions in public have lost their jobs, Jewish students in Cooper Union were closed into the library with a mob of anti-Zionists banging on the windows. And of course, six-year-old Wadia Al Fayoum z”l who was murdered in Illinois (police is saying that it appears as though the murder of Samantha Wohl in Detroit last week “had nothing to do with anti-Semitism”). Whether you’re Jewish or Arab in America you are probably experiencing at least a minimal level of fear.

What does that do to us?

Not only does it make us fidgety, nervous and reactive, it also makes us speak and behave in ways that we normally wouldn’t. The national traumas have risen to the front level of our hearts. These fears often translate into justification of actions we would normally consider wrong.

What I’m hearing around me is primarily talk of right and wrong. Words like justice and injustice fill the stratosphere. “kidnapping children is a justified means of…

--

--

Rabbi Misha Shulman

Jerusalem born, Misha has been working at the cusp of religion, art and activism since 1999. Rabbi @ The New Shul and Director of School for Creative Judaism.