Signs of Hope
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| Published: May 10, 2021
There is always hope. Webster’s dictionary defines “hope” as “to cherish a desire with anticipation.” Is this the same as counting on a miracle? Perhaps it is a strengthening of “emunah?” I saw an extremely moving video of a father of two of the souls that were taken from us this past week at Meron. You hear him speaking of Hashem taking his sons and then he cries out, “but please don’t take away my “emunah,” my belief in you.”
We all cried this past Thursday night and Friday. Tears of shock, tears of disbelief, but most important of all, tears of loss of family. Can anyone truly understand how and why this happened, physically and spiritually? Do we all understand that each of us shoulders responsibility for the “klall” and therefore, we each need to find the response that he/she honestly feels can be a “tikkun,” to help everyone?
Fortunately, from our illustrious history we learn that tragedy has always been followed by unexpected exalted progress. “ Hashem yi’lachem la’chem, v’atem tacharishun,” Hashem will go to battle for all of you and you will all remain silent ( Sh’mot 14.14). We pray that history will once again prove that something amazing is on the immediate horizon. In the meantime, while we are all hopefully feeling the pain and seeking the ways to individually fix ourselves.
What do we know about the immediate future? The Jewish calendar year of 5782, is a “Sh’mitah” year. This means that we will soon be entering into a year where in this week’s Torah portion of B’har we, “B’nai Yisrael,” are commanded, ” upon entering The Land which I gave you The Land must lie fallow as a Shabbat dedication to God” ( Vayikra 25.1-2). The holiness of the land is waiting for you to activate it and all you need to do is follow Hashem’s command. “Six year you worked the fields, but the seventh year is a Shabbat Shabbaton for the land, a Shabbat for God” ( Vayikra 25.2-4). Just like in creation. Six days Hashem created and on the seventh day He rested. “Shabbat is holy to God”( Sh’mot 35.2). We all know that it is that seventh day that gave rise to any future worlds, which gave strength to commitment and continuity. As it still is today, Shabbat is feeding our soul .It gives us all of the “koach” which we need to take with us for the coming week. Oh how this past Shabbat protected our feelings and gave us much needed comfort in the moment, that we could take with us. Now the challenge is in our hands. I need to ask myself what can we do to actualize the “soul” of The Land once again?
The connection to Shabbat is clear. The land is dedicated to Hashem through this stoppage of work. The mitzvah” of “shmitah” , the very essence of the existence of the land is called Shabbat. Therefore, many aspects which we know of regarding Shabbat are found in “the shmitah year.” The Slonimer Rebbe brings a Zohar which teaches us that just as Shabbat is the soul of the week, so “shmittah” is the soul of The land. We can rise to great spiritual heights by connecting to this “soul of seven.” “All the blessings on the seventh day are dependent on “Shabbat.” So too, all of the blessings of “Eretz Yisrael” are dependent of Shabbat Shmitah.” This is the blessing which God commanded for The Land. In addition, The Zohar adds that just as with Shabbat all decrees are removed from our being on this day so too there is a sweetening of judgement during the entire “shmittah “ year.
How comforting! For myself this is something so beautiful to look forward to. “Shmittah” year, which clearly is coming on the foot heels of all which we have endured over the past year and specifically the past week, is blessed to be filled with sweetness and high spiritual accomplishment. It seems that all I need to do is to be open to wanting to be taken up to high places in this coming year.
As usual, this implies that I need to prepare myself to be worthy of receiving these great gifts. It seems to me that just as ”B’nai Yisrael “ at Mount Sinai realized that the one reality which could show both themselves and Hashem that they were ready to truly accept being chosen to receive the holy Torah was to be totally united, as Rashi described it, “like one man with one heart”( Sh’mot 19.2), so too we need to find our way to do the same. That, I believe, is where our silence comes into the picture. You know when I go to a house of mourning I am aware that it is simply not my job to talk. It is my role to be ready to listen to what the mourning family members have to share about their deceased relative and do so with wholesome interest and caring. We can learn so much from this “minhag.” A friend of mine who is involved in government leadership shared with me how distressed he was on Friday morning past. He woke up at 6 a.m. and as is his usual start to the day, he turned on the TV to hear the ‘”chadashot,” opening news of the day. Of course he was greeted with the tragic news of the death of 45 holy “yidden.” He looked at me and said , “within 30 seconds I felt forced to turn off the broadcast. The finger pointing which took place at a moment where all we should be doing is mourning, awoke in me the need to cut off. At a time when we need to remain in silence and mourning, too many were actively looking for someone to blame, from all groups and walks of life. I was disgusted,” he said.
What can we do about this? Clearly there is a feeling among many of us that although we do have many issues which divide us as a people, the media and the political world all too often are creating further dissonance between us and are simply fueling the flames of hatred and anger. Perhaps we too need a break from the media. One week of no TV or radio news, no print media, no Facebook or Twitter, just us listening to ourselves and each other. Perhaps if those forces understood that we are no longer willing to listen to them they just might stop their effort to intentionally incite further differences between us. I would very much welcome everyone’s thoughts about this idea.
The Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, when teaching about the early verses of this week’s second Torah portion of “Bechukotai,” notes that Hashem is committed to bring security to The Land. “If you walk in my ways….and you will dwell in The Land securely” ( Vayikra 26.3-5).That promise is followed by the statement and I will give Peace in The Land. The question being if there is security is there not already Peace? Says The Ohr Hachaim, no , that is not a given. Hashem promises us security but if we want Peace, Hashem tells us, we must actively make Peace among ourselves. The onus of responsibility is on us to make Peace with our brothers and sisters.
First and foremost, may Hashem bless all of the families of these 45 holy souls to be comforted and to know that as painful as it is, their loved ones are clearly counted among the holy of holies. They have been a vessel for bringing us together all week. May we learn to care more about the “klall” and less about our personal opinions and power. May we cherish the desire of fulfilling the prayer of “kol Yisrael arevim zeh lazeh,” that all of Israel are totally responsible for each other and may we be blessed to anticipate that this will absolutely come true for us imminently. “Chaverim kol Yisrael,” all of Israel are friends, not only in time of tragedy, but also in times of ”simcha,” with great joy, “v’nomar,” and let us all say, Amen!