Torah for Today: 22/05/14

Torah for Today: 22/05/14

Torah For TodayWhat the Torah says about…the hunt for MH370

By Rabbi Naftali Schiff

TODAY, IN our technologically advanced age, a missing plane seems impossible – until it happens. The fate of flight MH370 has captured the hearts, minds and imagination of millions across the globe.  There is an overwhelming desire to find out what happened, how it could have happened and how we can be sure it won’t happen again.

It behoves the victims, their families and our own humanity, to ensure our continued search is motivated by our commitment to life, not some empty voyeuristic curiosity or black hole fascination.

The loss of life in this episode is tragic, the lack of closure for the families and friends of the victims must be unbearable. As such, it is heart-warming to see how the international community has united to attempt, albeit unsuccessfully, to locate the missing plane. Alas, at the moment we are none the wiser as to its fate. The question is whether the international community should keep looking.

When I served as an IDF soldier in Lebanon, one of the most powerful messages that the army impressed upon us is the extent to which we were expected to go to ensure no man would ever be left behind, and indeed the sense of confidence this impresses upon the soldiers.  The IDF will spare no effort to ensure this enshrined ideal is carried out in practice.

The idea of perseverance in the face of adversity is a Jewish value and is quite possibly a key factor for our survival over the past 3,000 years. The image of the Death Marches of 70 years ago will be etched in Jewish consciousness forever. Jews do not give in. The journey continues, no matter the odds.

The Talmud tells us that “even if a sword is upon one’s neck, never despair from mercy”. Jewish history across the ages is replete with heroic events of those who never gave up. We are eternal optimists, the people of “hope” –for whom Hatikva is their anthem! A people who believe challenges are only temporary setbacks and a brighter future is just around the corner, as the prophet Isaiah says: “Hide, but for a moment, until the wrath passes”.

We are not able to turn the clock back for flight MH370, but we are perhaps able to bring a degree of comfort to the mourners by showing that we care.

We will continue the search as long as it is practically possible to bring loved ones home and provide closure for bereaved families. It should be an expression of our commitment to the value of life and to the eternity of 239 circles of relationships so tragically severed.

• Rabbi Naftali Schiff is CEO of Aish UK

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