I’m confused. I want to write about the tragedies occurring in Israel, where our brothers and sisters are forced to endure torment as rockets rain down on them, but I can’t go to that place. I want to connect all of the terrible things that are going on with Tisha B’Av, but my mind sends me a couple of days further, to Tu B’Av.
Because with all of the terrible things that are going on in the world, especially in Israel, it’s hard not to see the Hand of Hashem guiding this whole thing. And when I see Hashem guiding us, even into and out of tragedy, I feel instantly better about our place in the world.
Let’s start from the beginning. This crisis began with the tragedy of our fallen brothers in Israel, our three boys who were taken from us simply because they were Jews. It was a tragedy of the greatest degree, but in that tragedy something unusual happened.
The old joke is that there was an old Jewish man who was rescued from a desert island, and when the search party found him they saw two buildings. “Why two buildings?” the rescuers asked him. “Oh,” the old man replied, “the first one is the shul I daven in; the second one is the shul I won’t set foot in.”
The point is we don’t have the greatest history when it comes to achdus, Jewish unity. Yet when those boys were taken from us there was a level of unity that had been dormant for years. And when Hashem sees us united, He will not fail us.
Which leads me to Moses. Moses sole, to be precise. There is a fish in the Red Sea called moses sole (or pardachirus marmoratus). This fish has an amazing ability to escape predators, including sharks.
The moses sole has toxins it releases so that when a predator gets too close its jaws actually freeze up and it cannot chomp down on the fish.
What’s the point? Right now we can choose to see our situation as dire. We can see our situation in Israel and the world as tragedy. Or we can see that Hashem is ready for our salvation if we’ll only unite and believe in Him – believe He wants us to succeed in a war and in a world where it seems we cannot win. Even when we are in the jaws of the enemy, Hashem is looking out for us, enabling us to survive catastrophe.
Consider the following: Last week Israeli security sources told the Israeli daily Maariv that Hamas had been preparing a massive assault on Israeli civilians this coming Rosh Hashanah. The plot was uncovered by Israeli soldiers operating in Gaza.
Who knows what battles Hashem is fighting for us behind the scenes? Who knows what kind of catastrophes have been aborted as a result of Israel’s incursion into Gaza? Hashem had been planning our salvation before He planned the tragedy that caused it.
Every Shabbos we say Mizmor LeDovid. Every Shabbos we reaffirm our belief that Hashem will protect us. We quote the words of King David: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” He doesn’t say he’s staying in the valley of the shadow of death but rather that he is walking through the valley. In our lives we will often walk through the valley but Hashem doesn’t want us to stay there. He wants us to walk out of it. It’s more than His “desire” – Hashem is planning our redemption, if we would just unite and believe in Him.