heroesBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman

By now, most have heard the reports about the terrorist attack on high speed train that left from Amsterdam, Holland toward Paris, France.
An Islamist terrorists armed with an AK-47, a handgun and a box-cutter planned death, destruction, and wholesale carnage.
Three American men, childhood friends, rushed the terrorist, and after a struggle – fully disarmed him. Their names are: Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guard member Alek Skarlatos, and college student Anthony Sadler.
They started off as tourists trekking through Europe on a planned three-week vacation. They were tourists – and now they are heroes.
Thank G-d they were there. Thank G-d they took action. And thank G-d they were not more seriously injured.
One of the heroes’ relatives, however, said something to the media that requires a response.
“I just look at it as chance,” the 63 year-old relative said. “They were lucky they didn’t get hurt. It was lucky they were there.”
Respectfully, this event was not chance, nor was it luck. It was because G-d Al-mighty helps heroes.
Heroes are people who don’t just look after themselves, but volunteer of themselves. Heroes are people who don’t just act in a vacuum, but do things for real people – for communities and groups of people in need. Heroes are people who do not just look to minimize risk, but take on grave personal danger or peril, whether it is the danger of an AK-47 or a handgun or a box-cutter.
Heroes don’t do things for material gain or for fame, but do things without need for reward or recompense.
One of Judaism’s great heroes was known as Nachmanides. He explains that if a person wishes to do good, and takes active steps to implement that good, he is enabled to do so from Heaven. Nachmanides cites several biblical proof-texts to this concept (See “HaEmunah V’Habitachon” Chapter 7).
These strong, selfless, caring, and inspiring young men saw a terrifying situation unfold before them. They took steps to remedy it — to stop the murderous rampage that was about to transpire.
And G-d Almighty watched over them. The AK-47 didn’t fire. The terrorist took out the handgun and tried firing it twice into the temple of Airman First Class Spencer Stone. It didn’t fire and clicked empty twice. The terrorist did succeed in cutting him with box-cutter and injuring Mr. Stone’s thumb, but this does not negate the idea that God was watching over him.
May God continue watching over heroes and soon remove the dominion of the forces of evil and the sponsors of terrorism from the world.
The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com. This article was written while the author was in Israel.


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