Don’t miss this opportunity to explore Israel off the beaten track, feel the conflict first hand, understand the security issues and politic realities, and have an unforgettable trip!
When I think of people dying al Kiddush Hashem, in sanctification of God’s name, I tend to focus on the Holocaust or earlier generations in our history. Our generation, with its material comforts and affluence, initially doesn’t come to mind when I think of mesiras nefesh (self-sacrifice) and dying al Kiddush Hashem.
I therefore was perplexed and surprised when reflecting on just a few of the Jews killed in recent years due to the fact that they were Jews: The eight boys learning in Mercaz HaRav; the five members of the Fogel family, including a three-month-old baby girl, in Itamar; the Holtzbergs, Chabad shluchim in Mumbai, India; Baruch Sandler and his two children in Toulouse, France; and the still raw trauma of the murder of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shaar.
Many others, including all the victims of the Second Intifada, could and should be on this list.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. We say in the Passover Haggadah, “In every generation they stand up against us to destroy us.” In truth, to many in my generation those were always just words. But when considering the stockpiled evidence, we have no choice but to acknowledge that it speaks to our generation as well. The vulnerability we all feel is acute and real.
Social media was abuzz recently with stories of inspiring visits to the various shiva homes for Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad. One rabbi who visited from America reported that on the gate entering the Frankel home the following words were written: “Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey). He said the words spoke much louder than any long sermon he could possibly give.
These poignant and powerful words moved me to tears. They represent to me our total trust in Hashem that we will ultimately be redeemed, though we understand that there will be bumps and significant hurdles along the arduous path.
My tears flowed from the realization that those on the front lines of the suffering have understood and embraced this reality wholeheartedly. Frankly, I had never seen anything quite like it in my life.
We read in Balak how Hashem opens up the mouth of the donkey. The donkey asks Bilam what he did to deserve being hit three times. The anomaly is that rather then using the word “peamim,” times, the Torah uses “regalim,” the word we traditionally use to describe our three festivals. Rashi tells us the Torah is alluding to Bilam’s desire to eradicate a people who celebrate the three festivals of the year.
The Maharal of Prague in Gur Aryeh, his commentary on Rashi, , elucidates this by explaining the uniqueness of the three festivals and why the donkey focuses on that particular mitzvah. He explains that time is comprised of past, present, and future – and the message of the donkey is that our people have prevailed through past and present and will survive into the future. Hashem gives us the three festivals to inculcate within us our dominion and permanence within time.
All three festivals are situated within the warmer months, filled with hope and light, in contrast to the winter months, which represent death and stagnation. The donkey is rebuking and challenging Bilam over his desire to harm a nation that rejoices within the times of growth and potential. This joy embedded within the growth season reflects our eternality, timelessness, completeness and yearning for ultimate tranquility.
Bilam, representing the archetype of our enemies throughout the centuries, is rebuffed by the symbolism of an eternal people, accented and highlighted by the placement of our three festivals – an eternal people not afraid of the long and difficult road home.
About the Author: Dovid M. Cohen, Esq., is rabbi of Young Israel of the West Side in Manhattan (www.yiws.org).
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
You must log in to post a comment.
Obama went to begin the Arab Spring in Egypt which is still his target; Israel is just the lever.
Qatar’s wealth and Turkey’s size should not preclude us from telling it as it is: Qatar and Turkey are among the worst villains in the Gaza tragedy.
New Delhi would do well to remain aware of the predicament of Israel today.
his Tisha B’Av, and this Tu B’Av, remember: Hashem will protect us if we unite and rally around Him
Israel’s morality is underscored by its unprecedented restraint and care for loss of life.
The Gazan octopus arm is a test case, as the rest of the arms are closely watching it.
Obama has chosen shaky ally on the way out over strong ally solidly in the American orbit.
World War I had sown chaos throughout the centuries-old Jewish communities of Eastern Europe.
The IDF pounding continued and it again seemed only a matter of time before Hamas would be forced to accept the Egyptian proposal.
Nothing is ever so clear in the complex and often brutal calculus of urban warfare.
“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).
At some point I noticed an arresting picture on his wall and discovered that his maternal grandfather was Rav Dovid Lifshitz.
There is always some tension surrounding Super Bowl Sunday as one decides whether to watch the big game with friends or go it alone. I have a friend who makes a compromise. He watches the first half with friends – or, as he explains, “the novices,” those who aren’t “real” fans – but the second half, generally the more intense part of the game, he watches alone.
It’s been a rough few weeks. It began with the news of a heinous crime just blocks from where I live on Manhatan’s Upper West Side: a nanny viciously took the lives of her two young charges. Hurricane Sandy came next, contributing additional loss of life and financial devastation of a magnitude never before experienced by our East Coast brethren.
I once heard a story about a single man struggling to find a spouse. His main challenge was his insistence that a potential mate permanently welcome his widowed mother into their marital home. A friend suggested that he speak with the great authority, Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l. The man shared with the Rav his delicate predicament. The Rav validated the man’s approach as acceptable. Sometime later, the man met his bashert, the special woman willing to live with his mom. They returned to Rav Shlomo Zalman for his blessing. Surprisingly, the Rav called the man aside and told him that they cannot live with his mother anymore. The young man was shocked. After all, on the previous visit, the Rav had supported his desire to find a woman who would accept their living with his mother.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-message-for-our-generation/2014/07/17/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: