Recently there have been hundreds of headlines about the opposite of assisted living. For some on this, you can read Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s account. But instead of speaking in particular about the difficult case he was asked to address, I thought to present my own thoughts in lieu of the recent terror attacks.
On Monday afternoon I was waiting at the Gush Etzion Junction for a ride back home when a car pulled up going to Alon Shvut. Many times I would take this option, getting off at the intersection, and then wait for another car to take me the rest of the way home. But for some reason I decided not to enter that car. About a minute later a good friend from my town stopped and took me and several others with him. I wrote to him soon after finding out about the terror attack at the Alon Shvut junction that: “God guides our every step in this world. Let’s make the most of these steps.”
Still lost in thought, my wife throughout the next few hours tells me of relatives and friends of Dalia Lemkos HY”D that my wife also knows. More reminders that we are all one family.
So what now?
There is the political and the personal. The change that we hope to effect on the communal level, and the personal vitality that we hope to instill within ourselves. And the loss of hope in the communal, in the leaders that govern in the Land of Israel, has led to listlessness on the personal level.
Have you ever asked why Israelis listen to American music? Especially music from prior decades. It’s an attempt to escape. Traveling out to Jerusalem this morning, the bus I was on had previously been stoned as evidenced by the partially shattered windows throughout. Is it any wonder that the driver hunched over the newspaper, with cigarette in hand, prior to starting the route, and played a music station that fed escapism?
Ultimately, the answers that we seek are from God. Why does he make us suffer so long in exile? But along with this rightful complaint comes the realization that there is hope.
The personal hope was addressed recently in Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh’s essay on 5775, the Jewish year we are now in. That the calculations allude to this year being the year for the coming of Moshiach, for the Redemption. And while in any event Moshiach should come, we can do one more mitzvah, bring another Jew closer to Torah observance, etc…
While the coming of Moshiach also resolves all communal issues—as he will establish a true and just court system according to the Torah, and so forth—our focus, and the focus of Rabbi Ginsburgh’s essay, emphasizes the personal. The attempt to instill hope and shine light over personal feelings of listlessness, depression, etc… Why is this?
Because work to create communal change takes a movement. It takes a swelling, a “tipping point,” of personally inspired and motivated individuals to rise up, turn off the radio station, and demand change. This is perhaps why this class on the coming of Moshiach was delivered at a conference for a political action group called the Derech Chaim movement. Through becoming inspired on a personal level, the hope is that soon (may it be today) the communal change will also occur. But for a communal change to occur, there needs to be a lesson plan. So while Derech Chaim works to further develop their plan of action, the first step is to instill hope on a personal level. To encourage individuals to start turning off their American songs from previous decades, and start listening to the sound of positive change.