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    Feeling afraid – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Isn’t the verse from Psalms unrealistic – “The Lord is with me, I shall not fear” (118:6)?

    A. The song says, “Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect: I whistle a happy tune, so no-one will suspect I’m afraid”.

    The Jew says, “Whenever I feel afraid, I know I’m not alone: I say Shema Yisra’el, and never do I moan”.

    With God there, the fear does not magically evaporate, but it loses its force.

    The sages (Avodah Zarah 65a) tell a story about the great scholar Rava, who was deputed to bring a gift to an official of the Parthian regime.

    He found the official lying on a bed of roses surrounded by beautiful maidens. The official looked scornfully at the ascetic sage and said, “Do you have anything like this in your World to Come?”

    Rava retorted, “We have something better, which is bliss, undaunted by fear of governments.”

    As they were talking a messenger arrived from the government, requiring the official to appear before an investigatory panel on charges of misconduct.

    Suddenly all the bluster went and the terror-stricken official lost interest in his flowers and maidens.

    Of course there were many times in history when Jews were confronted with threats and attacks, but the Jewish response was to say, “God is with me, and I will overcome.”

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