Today, on this holiday of Thanksgiving, I want to extend to all my American brothers and sisters a happy and restful day.
It is my belief that we American Jews should reflect on this day upon all the bounty that this wonderful country has given to us. We have an obligation to express Hakaras HaTov - sincere gratitude - every chance we get. What better day to do so than on Thanksgiving? Though I did not witness it myself – nor did I ever ask him - I’m told that my Rebbe, Rav Ahron Soloveichik felt the same way and that he actually had turkey on Thanksgiving.
But this year is not like other years. We are going through some tough times. I need not mention the unprecedented economic downturn - nor the unsettled situation in Israel.
But on this day, half way around the world in India we are reminded of the very real danger we all face - Jew and non Jew alike – from Islamic Fundamentalists. Yesterday the city of Mumbai was attacked by terrorists and over 125 people have been killed so far. One of the places attacked was a Chabad House. As of this writing Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivki, are unconscious along with six others. They are assumed being held hostage there. From Ha’aretz:
Senior Foreign Ministry officials said that there was serious concern for the lives of the Chabad center hostages, as the gunmen holed up at the center urged the Indian government to negotiate with them over the hostages' release.
According to reports from Mumbai, Indian commandos had circled the Chabad center and were reportedly preparing to storm the building in hopes of releasing the hostages.
Earlier Thursday, the family of the Chabad rabbi held hostage by the terrorists said that the captives were unconscious.
We ought not only to reflect on this too but to make it a priority to pray for their welfare:
For our brothers – all the house of Israel! …who have been handed into distress and captivity; whether on the sea or on land, May God grant them mercy – and take them out of their distress, and bring them relief… bringing them from darkness to light; from captive servitude to redemption speedily and very soon. Let us say Amen!