The Shabbat Project was planned for the Shabbat before last. It was to be an extra special Shabbat. Jews from all over the world – including many non-observant Jews – would unite in observing the holy day. And that happened – but not in the way anyone had anticipated.
When I heard the news of the Pittsburgh massacre after Shabbat, tears kept forming in my eyes. But then I suddenly realized that despite the history of anti-Semitism in this country – most evident during the Holocaust – never before had an attack of this nature taken place here. And I suddenly realized what a miracle that is.
Millions of people hate Jews around the world, particularly in the Middle East, want to kill Jews. And yet, how often do they succeed?
When my oldest son called the other night, I told him what I was thinking. He responded by telling me that’s the message of psalm 117, he told me. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible; it consists of only two verses. But these two verses tell us, powerfully and succinctly, that non-Jews appreciate the miracle of our continued existence more than anyone because they know about their plots to destroy us – plots which Hashem foiled without us even knowing.
Anti-Semites see G-d protecting the Jewish people even more than we do. And when that shield of overwhelming miraculous protection is removed from us for some reason – even just for a moment in one synagogue in Pittsburgh – we see what transpires.
In memory of the sweet and kind Jewish people at the Tree of Life Synagogue who passed from this world, may we increase our gratitude for the miracles that sustain us every day. And may we continue to be blessed to fulfill the Shabbat Project’s aim – to better appreciate G-d and each other, with joy.