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July 19, 2015 1:32 pm

On Iran Nuclear Deal, Remember That One Voice Can Make a Difference

avatar by Areyah Kaltmann

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The Iran nuclear negotiations. Photo: Screenshot from YouTube.

The Iran nuclear negotiations. Photo: Screenshot from YouTube.

A roaring stadium is packed to capacity. Not Ohio State vs. Michigan, but the kind of brutal, life-and-death clash that occurred 2,000 years ago – in the Colosseum. The spectators have worked themselves into a frenzy, gleefully anticipating a menacing bull facing off against a condemned Jewish slave. The gladiatorial combat provides cheap entertainment for the bloodthirsty masses, who know that the slave’s slightest miscalculation will cost him his life.

In a Talmudic passage concerning our recommended conduct at such a time, one group of rabbis rules that a Jew is forbidden to enter the stadium because that individual’s attendance is tantamount to being an accessory to murder. The Jew’s patronage is supporting bloodshed.

But one of our sages, Rav Nosson, permits visiting the stadium because by ardently shouting and pleading, one moral person might be able to rescue a fallen gladiator. In fact, this mitzvah is so urgent that the person should go to the stadium even on Shabbat.

Although Rav Nosson’s perspective is only one opinion, the underlying principle that he espouses is unanimously agreed upon, and so, in a sense, he has demonstrated the import of his idea. He alone disagreed, and he turned a tide of thought.

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So picture this scene.  A lone and righteous Jew in a stadium as all the people around him are callously carried away by a lust for blood. All thumbs are pointing down, condemning an innocent slave to death, except for this man’s thumbs, pointing to the heavens. Might he prevail? Perhaps not, but perhaps yes. Nevertheless, his presence and his voice are imperative. Rav Nosson believed that one moral voice can make an extraordinary difference.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory, expressed himself similarly. Just as scientific theory says a butterfly’s wings can affect the weather on the other side of the world, the Rebbe instructed that the power of good deeds are as far-reaching. At the same time, however, the Rebbe warned that a nuclear missile on one side of the world can have devastating effects across the globe just by the dispassionate press of a button.

This week that specter loomed closer with the Iran nuclear deal. We need to use our voices to rail against the deal’s ratification in Congress, even if at times we feel we are the lone voice of reason in the stadium.

And beyond contacting our representatives in government and expressing our point of view in the media, we can light Shabbat candles, put on tefillin, and perform other mitzvot. God is always listening.

So how loud is one voice? Rav Nosson might respond that the power of one person’s voice, when it is pointing others toward the light, is immeasurable. This is a time for each of us to shout.

Rabbi Areyah Kaltmann is Executive director of Chabad of Columbus, Ohio.

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  • Scott

    Nice response..
    The individual is only here as a Troll to get attention.
    In general,it’s best not to feed the Trolls, but sometimes the urge is irresistible.
    Just be aware, that no amount of pointing out history, facts or common sense sways this particular Troll.
    He is as you said, a narcisstic Troll who really has a desire more to be noticed, than to be taken seriously.

    He lurks, we chose to feed him, or not……

  • I’m shouting, Rabbi!

  • Jullian Clovelley

    Well here is such a lone voice

    WHERE and WHAT is your alternative Iran policy

    I have seen article after article, and post after post, for years here ranting about how bad everyone else’s ideas are for a solution

    Not ONCE have a seen a practical alternative policy – Not from Netanyahu downwards – not from a Republican or Tea Party Leader

    To me it all comes across as ranting to seize the Jewish vote for the extreme Right in America – a ranting that only pours petrol on flames.

    If this supposed policy comes down to military action it would likely bring in other forces that are not factored into Right Wing rants – for example the forces of the Russian Federation and the already existing Islamic Nuclear arsenal (Pakistan)

    Boot up Google Earth and look at the damn map and then tell us what your policy is. If it is war in the Middle East then say so. In my opinion Israel would not survive an all out war