All of us aspire to acquire the Keser Torah, the crown of Torah. But Torah is vastly different than any other branch of knowledge. If you want to master calculus or physics, for example, you need to have brains, a good teacher, and disciplined study habits. For Torah you need more.
Pirkei Avos informs us that to truly acquire Torah, you need 48 tools. One of them is nosei b’ol chaveiro, the ability to empathize with another person. I’d like to zoom in on this vital trait as it pertains to current events – namely, the over 400 rockets that rained down on Israel the other week.
The empathetic person should reflect on how parents by the tens of thousands had to wake up their children in the middle of the night and rush them to shelters and safe rooms. How elderly people had to be brought with walkers and wheelchairs to safety. How people had to be shaken and roused out of sleep after taking sleeping pills.
How countless people have to keep heart medicine and inhalers in safe rooms in case they are needed. How modest women go to sleep fully dressed so that they don’t have to run out in nightgowns in an emergency. How families keep a bucket, tissues, and an umbrella in safe rooms – the bucket for use as a makeshift toilet and the umbrella for use as a privacy screen.
How, when 400 rockets rained down on Israel, one million Israeli children were forced to stay home from school. Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, once explained that children absent from school makes us very vulnerable for we are taught, “Ein ha’olam mikayem ela bishvil hevel tinokes shel beis rabban – The world only survives because of the Torah study of school children.”
Do we consider how hard it is for children to go to sleep when they’re worrying about being hit by a large missile? Do we reflect on how hard it is for a person to go to work after having had his sleep interrupted repeatedly by sirens? Do we ponder just how scary it is to go about your day knowing that at any minute a rocket could plow through your living room?
So what should we do with these ponderings? The answer unequivocally is that we should pray for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael. Tehillim (ch. 20) states, “Eileh varechev v’eileh va’susim, va’anachnu b’sheim Hashem Elokeinu nazkir – They come with their chariots and they come with their steeds, but we come with the mention of Hashem, our G-d.”
So when we say in Maariv, “Hashkivenu Hashem Elokeinu l’shalom – Hashem, help us go to sleep peacefully,” we should not only pray to sleep peacefully, to get along with our spouse, and to be safe from nighttime dangers such as robbery, fire, and carbon monoxide. We should also pray that our brethren in Eretz Yisrael be able to go to sleep serenely, without fear of being terrorized.
When we say the berachah of laMalshinim in Shemone Esrei, we should say the stanza of “V’hazeidim meheirah s’akeir u’s’shabeir u’s’mageir u’s’chaleim v’sashpileim v’sachni’eim bimheirah v’yameinu – Those who are willful [which of course includes all the terrorists] should be quickly uprooted and broken and pulverized and brought low and humiliated, speedily in our days,” with much greater intensity.
When we say “V’yisparkun v’yishteizvun min kol aka u’min kol marin bishin – We should be redeemed and saved from any trouble and any evil happenstance” in Yekum Purkan on Shabbos, we should focus on our Israeli brethren’s plight. We should do the same when we say, “Racheim nah, Hashem Elokeinu, al Yisrael amecha – Please have mercy, our G-d, on Yisrael your children,” in bentching.
We should also suggest to our children that they take out a Tehillim and say a kapital for the scared children in Eretz Yisrael. And our children should see us saying Tehillim as well. That’s how we teach empathy, achdus, and love of Eretz Yisrael.
In the merit of our heartfelt collective prayers, may Hashem protect our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael and give them the tranquility and protection they so richly deserve. And for caring for our brethren, may Hashem bless us with long life, good health, and everything wonderful.
(To be continued)