January 20, 2021

3 min read

For some people, the purpose of terror attacks is to awaken or to punish us. 

For others, God has lost control of the situation. 

Many others feel invaded by terror.

What hides behind these fears? 


These fears were already present, terrorism merely externalized them. 

We become aware of our fears, able to understand them and to draw personal conclusions. 

We know how to overcome fear of dying, after all, we drive in our cars every day. 

Where does this fear that has crept into so many of our hearts, today, come from?


Fear reflects our lack of faith in ourselves, in life, in God. 

Even the knowledge that everything, absolutely everything, is under Hashem’s perfect control, 

and that there is never any loss of divine control, does not always soothe a troubled heart. 


Terrorism is the result of a fanatical idea taken to the extreme. 

Divine devotion, a beautiful and lofty idea, is turned inside-out like a glove and filled with blasphemies. 

Divine love and patience become inhuman hatred and violence. 

If terrorism, then, imposes its hatred and violence on humanity, 

let us offer love and kindness. 

I am not responsible for the thoughts and feelings of others, only for my own, 

so I seek to make the changes that are within my power – in my heart, my thoughts, my deeds and my words.


What if terrorism was the explosion of mankind’s accumulated mental violence? 

By mental violence, I mean truths that we are taught but do not bother to verify or develop. 

By mental violence, I mean truths that I impose on others, without love or kindness. 

By mental violence, I mean critical thoughts about yourself, others and the situation. 

By this violence, I mean the attitude of constantly placing yourself in second place, below your spouse, children, or career. 

Violence always begins with ourselves; 

we harm ourselves by listening to the voices of fear, doubt, lack of faith. 

We ignore that behind these voices hide the wonderful force of life which continues to blossom. 

Joy, altruism and faith that light is more powerful than darkness, 

that love wins over hatred and that joy overcomes mourning.


All truth must be questioned, reworked and then revitalized, otherwise it becomes fanaticism. 

Personally, I hold no absolute truths in the world of ideas. 

Of course, I hold many truths in my heart; 

not what I have been taught, but what I feel. 

My subjective truths are those that resonate within me, 

like the love of my family or my people, like the desire for peace, joy and unity. 


Of course, God is a Truth, the greatest of my certainties, 

but if someone asks me to prove His existence, 

I have no rational words to do so, since as love cannot be explained, 

neither can the certainty of God.


Mental patience is choosing to remain innocent, 

because something bigger than us is pulling the strings. 

Mental patience is listening to my fellow human (if he is human!) 

with a heart open to the intrinsic good within him. 

This kindness of spirit, of course, begins with oneself. 

Listen to yourself, respect yourself, please yourself and be filled with calm. 

Feel deeply that we are always – yes, always – under His protection. 


And whenever a situation reminds me of my helplessness, 

like seeing a child stabbed a month before his Bar Mitzvah, 

our prayers join with his mother’s prayers, 

crossing hearts beyond the oceans, 

imploring the Divine Mercy that lies dormant within us. 


It is from the depths of our helplessness that we encounter Omnipotence. 

You have to live it to understand it.

Esther Horgen wrote this poem in 2015, following a particularly brutal month when a boy was stabbed just weeks before his Bar Mitzvah. Esther, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist on December 20, 2020. An artist, her illustrations are being published in “Megillat Esther Horgen” to be released before Purim. 

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