web analytics
December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
8000 meals Celebrate Eight Days of Chanukah – With 8,000 Free Meals Daily to Israel’s Poor

Join Meir Panim’s campaign to “light up” Chanukah for families in need.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

A Message For Our Generation

Shimon Peres speaking at funeral service for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal

Shimon Peres speaking at funeral service for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal
Photo Credit: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90

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.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “A Message For Our Generation”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Brandeis University junior Khadijah Lynch who tweeted she has "no sympathy" for slain NYPD officers, shown here on "Wake Up With Tayla Andre, "Dec. 24, 2014.
A War of Words (Some More Accurate Than Others) at Brandeis
Latest Indepth Stories
Middle-East-map

Is not Israel’s policy of “territory for peace” with Arab leaders criminally irresponsible?

Israel Palestine Flag

Israel must develop it’s truthful message to be as clear & simple to comprehend as the Arab’s lies

School of Athens by Raphael (Aristotle on right holding his work, "Ethics")

2 basic aspects of Aristotelian thought remarkably like Jewish thought: “Involvement” & “Purpose”

Ben-Tsvi-122614

“Farming still allows some unique opportunities for mitzvah fulfillment that a city dweller never meets.”

It shakes our sense of justice when allegations against a famed role model are covered up or ignored

Feiglin: Only true liberty will allow us to genuinely connect to our Jewish identity.

The silver lining with early elections is the chance to change the current dysfunctional government.

The Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland informed the host he could not say “Israel or Jewish state”

It’s fascinating how sources attain the status “traditional,” or its equivalent level of kashrus.

The West needs to ensure Russia understands that aggression comes at a significant cost.

What benefit is a learning experience that leaves kids confused,disillusioned&harms self confidence?

Girlfriend and double cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley apparently was influenced by Islamic extremism.

We see pictures of mosques, monuments for terrorists, illegal schools, and hundreds of apartments being built on Jewish land without repercussions. We are losing Jewish property, so it is up to us to protect it.

Thus, despite the increasingly serious problems for the mayor arising out of the current anti-police protests, Mr. de Blasio apparently will be cut no slack by those who seem to be aiming for a significant role in running the city from the streets and who will do whatever they can to prevent their momentum from ebbing.

Also left unsaid was the fact that the menorah and its oil were in the Beit HaMikdash, which of course was located on Har HaBayit – the Temple Mount that present-day Muslims claim as their own.

More Articles from Rabbi Dovid M. Cohen
Torah Curtain (detail) (2011) by Mark Podwal Fabricated by Penn and Fletcher Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

There are three Jewish crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood, and the crown of kingship.

Shimon Peres speaking at funeral service for Gilad, Naftali and Eyal

“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).

The first month of 2014 has brought an intense high and a profound low.

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: