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Do we truly value life?  I think this requires true introspection.  If we view life as dispensable, or if we feel there is justification in killing someone (other than in self defense), then we do not really value life.  And why do we not? Because we forget Who gives life. We forget that the Almighty created us, created the entire universe, and He is the One Who bestows life upon His creations. Therefore, we have no right to disrespect life of anyone or anything.

There is a story of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe who was walking once with his father and without even thinking he plucked a leaf from a tree and started pulling it apart as he walked. His father scolded him and pointed out to him that even a leaf has life to it and a purpose and a human being must never be insensitive and just disregard any part of creation.  To even show sensitivity to a leaf is what a human being should do. 

Now contrast that with terrorists around the world or governments or politicians who justify killing and blowing up people in order to achieve their goals. Obviously, they do not value life or respect life.  They want to achieve power and control and they feel by using fear tactics or by removing opponents, they will be successful. However, they fail to realize that all success and power comes from the Almighty. If they do something against His will, how successful will they be in the long run???   When we see the extent that some people have for destruction and terror, we can also see the extent to which they do not value the life that G-d has given them. 

We need to raise generations of children who will grow up to be mindful and considerate of others. They must learn respect and care. They must respect and value life.  But in order to do that, it is necessary to educate our children properly from the very beginning. Obviously, those who receive a Torah education are given this morality.  But even non Jews can be taught this by implementing what the Lubavitcher Rebbe suggested more than 30 years ago;  that all school systems should institute a “moment of silence” in their schools every morning. The children do not have to pray according to any particular set of customs at that moment.  But they do have to think about the Creator of the world and about what He wants. They have to think about G-d.  They can also ask of G-d whatever they need or want. They have to think about what G-d wants from them, since He created them. They have to think about having a moral and good society. Parents and educators must help the children and tell them what they need to think about. In other words, we need to bring G-d back into our school systems and our society. That is the only hope for society!  If we think we can leave morality and goodness up to our limited human minds, we need not look far to see the results of that. The Nazis (may G-d obliterate their names) thought they were the most intelligent and cultured people in the world…yet they ended up committing the worst atrocities known to our generation!  That is because they lacked fear of G-d and they relied on their own minds.  They lacked a proper value system of ethics and morality.

In Judaism, a birthday is not only a time to celebrate with a cake and party, but it is a time for self reflection: G-d created you for a purpose and are you fulfilling that purpose? Are you living up to your potential for good in the world?

Each one of us must constantly ask ourselves what are we doing to make the world a better place and to hasten the redemption. Every additional deed of goodness and kindness helps to bring the Geula.