In Pirke Avot, we learn that one mitzvah leads,even causes another mitzvah to be done. Likewise, one transgression leads to another. It seem that, in human affairs, we do tend to imitate each other. When there is an atmosphere around us of anger and violence, we often have the impulse to follow suit. Our anger is kindled, and we are capable of committing violence as well. On the other hand, when a hand is extended to another in compassion and friendship, often there will be reciprocal gestures. What seems especially hard and even unnatural is to break this powerful cycle, to change the direction by responding to violence with restraint and even a token of respect and hope.
In Israel and the West Bank at this moment, we stand now at such a precipice. Cruel violence has been committed. We ask ourselves so searchingly how best to respond. Of course justice must be pursued so that those who murdered innocent young people are severely judged. Yet, beyond justice, there are choices. The tradition is so clear. “Do not seek vengeance”. Instead, “Seek peace and pursue it.” We are now at a time of momentous decision making. May we learn restraint and pursue peacemaking with even more determination.