Published Date: August 12, 2019
This week’s music: Acappella -“Let’s Build The Temple”
Generally when we think of zealots we think of swords, killing, political extremists, perhaps Pinchas from the Torah. I am looking to be a zealot of a different ilk, though our ultimate goals may be the same. I am looking to be a “Zealot for Peace.”
“And these are the words which Moshe spoke to the B’nai Yisrael…” (Devarim 1.1). Let’s recall that your fathers acted despicably towards Hashem. He miraculously took them out of “Mitzrayim” in order that they will enter into The Land. They saw miracle after miracle and still lost their faith. They sent spies to check on the situation in their new habitat, they didn’t trust that Hashem would care for their physical needs, both in their desert travels and when they enter The Land. Basically they showered hatred on God. You however, Moshe tells the “kahal,” who saw the victories over the kings of Of and Sichon, you are, and continue to be, believers and you will have the honor to fight for and enter The Land, to raise up its holiness for all the world to see.
What was the factor which these people experienced which gave them strength to be ready to fight for the Land? They believed. In a sense they were similar to their forefathers who merited to go out of “Mitzraim” for one reason alone. They too believed. The level of commitment of those who left “Mitzraim” may have been low and shaky, but no question they believed. In the slave generation their belief was one based on “yirah,” awe of Hashem. “Reshit chochmah yirat Adonai,” the beginning of wisdom is to be in awe of God. In order to enter The Land, B’nai Yisrael needed to be on the highest level of “yirah,” awe of Hashem.
In order to reach this level, teaches the Slonimer Rebbe, you need not only believe in Hashem, you need to trust in Hashem. In order to get to a higher level and approach Hashem you need to believe in each other. You need to not only be confident in the supernatural support for military victory, you need to want something beyond. You need to want to live together in a world of Peace and harmony.
Peace and harmony! “Lo bashamayim hee”, it is not something that can only be accomplished by heavenly bodies) Devarim 30.11-14). It does indeed take a strong desire and a major personal commitment to attain “the want” for Peace to arrive in our lifetime. If God forbid, I don’t care to live in a world of Peace, then perhaps the whole conversation is moot. Since I believe in my heart of hearts that everyone of us truly wants Peace and everyone one of us has our own perspective of how to best arrive to that great holy state, I want to humbly suggest that each of us needs to find his/her personal path of fixing to reach that high level of desire for Peace.
It seems to me that first and foremost we need to absolutely stop hurting each other with verbal abuse, intentionally or not, justified or not, righteous or not, in truth and in lies. We must care about the hurt of others, whether we agree with their personal premise that fuels their feelings. If someone is really hurt, I need to find a way to feel their hurt and let them know that I care. I must keep in mind that hurt is such a complex state and that speaking about it publicly makes it even more complex. I am hurt, I speak about someone else and hurt them, my stinging words hurt their friends and on and on and on. How can a caring person begin to be open to taking justified responsibility for such a wheel of hurt?
So why, if we all want Peace, do we seem to find it so hard to each contribute to paving the road for this great moment? Why are we pushing off the Geulah? Are we afraid of Peace? Is it the fear of the unknown? What will the world really look like? What will I be missing? How do I need to fit in? These are all questions that we don’t really know the answers to.
I must do the opposite. I must keep giving, continue forgiving, seek ways to help healing, to think of all of our brothers and sisters as we do of our immediate family. I need to go beyond myself. If my intellect and rational tells me to hit back and verbally lash out, I must seek out a deeper place inside of me that has a stronger direct connection to Hashem.
As we near the end of our annual 9-day mourning period, which we have suffered through for 2000 years, I must ask myself, how can I be a zealot for Peace? How can I remember that it is not about me getting you to believe? It is not about me finding a way for you to love me it is about me finding the way to fix myself so I can believe in and love you.
There is a beautiful prayer which is said preceding our daily morning prayers, which was written by the holy Reb David of Botsetch ( which he states must be said prior to having the daily honor to say the blessing for studying the Holy Torah).”At this very moment I am directing the intentions of all of my actions, words and thoughts for this entire day, in the name of unity with The Holy One blessed he and in the name of all of Israel ,to humbly view myself, all of Israel and all of the world from a place of merit.” Without this commitment I cannot have the right to recite the blessing for the study of Torah.
Of course as we know, sadly, there has been much internal fighting taking place among us B’nai Yisrael for thousands of years now. “and Jacob woke up from his dream,” (Bereshit 28.12-17) says Reb Levi Yitzchak, he saw the darkness of the “galut,” the exile and all of the suffering of Israel. This suffering can only be fixed by connecting to Hashem and each other.” There is no other way. It Is all about connecting. To overcome this bickering we need to desire this connection on the level of “no choice.”
And so we, the grandchildren of Avraham and Yitzchak, those whose numbers can go beyond the number of stars in the sky, who were promised to inherit The Land, must do so together as the B’nai Yisrael, as the children of Yakkov. Then we can be a true light to the world. Then we can open the gates for everyone to pray together, “for my house will be a house of prayer for all nations.”( Isaiah 56.7)