There is a special rhythm we experience one day each week: the rhythm of Shabbat. It’s a mixture of smells and tastes and quiet calm, something that is very Israeli and impossible to describe in words. The terrorist in Neve Yaakov murdered seven people, but it is important to make clear that the terrorist murdered seven people in Neve Yaakov on Shabbat — between welcoming Shabbat at sundown, the evening meal, and gatherings of family and friends
Even the world press spoke differently of this terrorist attack and explained what Shabbat is all about. Because the difference between the demonic lust for murder and the simple joy of being alive stands out in this instance, at this special time of the week, more than ever.
Last week, at the close of Shabbat, 14-year-old Asher Natan Morali was laid to rest. He was murdered just after his family had finished the Shabbat evening meal and Asher, oldest child of eight, went outside to meet some friends. Also buried yesterday night were *Natalie and Eli Mizrahi*, who had been having the Shabbat meal with Eli’s father. How tranquil that Shabbat family gathering had been before the couple rushed outside to help the wounded and were murdered.
Four other precious victims – Raphael Ben Eliyahu, Irina Korolova, Shaul Hai, and Ilya Sosansky – who were murdered on the day of rest have yet to be brought to their final resting place.
The following Shabbat day was a source of consolation itself. On the morning after the terrorist attack, ancient words of comfort from the weekly haftarah, taken from the book of Jeremiah, were read in synagogues throughout the world:
“You fear not, O Jacob My servant, and be not dismayed, O Israel! for behold, I will redeem you from afar and your children from the land of their captivity, and Jacob shall return and be quiet and at ease, and there shall be none who disturb his rest.”
Condolences to the families. May all the prophecies of consolation soon come true.
Where did Miriam’s Tambourine Come From?
At a time when we are flooded with gloomy prognostications, the following episode in this week’s Torah portion can plant hope inside us and give us strength.
After the splitting of the Red Sea, the nation erupted in song, giving thanks for the miracle that had just occurred. In that same moment, Miriam the prophetess immediately took a tambourine and led the women in dance: “Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women came out after her with tambourines and with dances.”
But hold on a minute. Where did Miriam suddenly find a tambourine in the middle of the desert? Our commentators explain that Miriam took the tambourine with her from Egypt, where she had kept it by her side during many years of slavery and had it with her still. She had been looking forward to this joyous occasion for a long time. And not just her. Miriam had educated all the women regarding the redemption that could happen at any moment, and therefore they too had prepared for it with tambourines.
There is much to be learned from that generation of believing, optimistic, and forceful women. They expected something good would happen and so it did.
This attitude reminds me of the words in a song by Aharon Razel: “Have you made room in your heart for the goodness you will yet discover? Are you prepared for the kindness that today will bring?”
Miriam teaches us to live with joyful expectation. Despite our difficulties, there is no reason to obsess over dark scenarios when we can, instead, anticipate good news. Have we made room for the kindness and the goodness sure to come?
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin