Not again

Mimi read this post and referred it to me, saying that it’s what she’s been trying to express all along. How even though every moment of conflict hurts so badly, it gives her hope that it will be the last pain before the Redemption. And yet, when the pain lessens… so do we. I was given permission (Todah Rabah,) to use an sample of the post here. I highly recommend visiting the blog for the whole thing: I’m finally sick of Golus, by Rivka Nehorai

I’m really protesting something else – I’m angry that this will bring me higher.

I find with astonishment as I check my internal dialogue that part of me is fed up that this situation will bring me closer to Israel and the Jewish people. I’ll take on a mitzvah, take on an action. My perspective will shift, my priorities will realign, and the shtus of my life will stop avalanching me, because within me I am preoccupied with the growing understanding of the precariousness of the Jewish people and the need for us to focus.

When terror strikes, my life gets simultaneously heavier and better; because my head, heart, and soul are finally, finally aligned. When Israel is under attack, my head is at last found focused in the celestial clouds while my feet are on the ground. I’m able to function in this world while my heart prays for another world.

And I’m tired of it.

Because I’m sick and tired of sliding back. I’m sick of once the terror fades and slides under the radar again that I forget.

I’m tired of forgetting.

I think the author’s solution to the problem is a mission statement we should all adapt. Myself, and Mimi, and you. And everyone.

Shavuah tov

For even one hour

Even if my tear-drenched, perched on the edge of my bed seeking relief from the pain, tearing my heart out for the umpteenth time today- prayers only gave me this burst of good feeling and health for– I’d say three hours now– it was worth it.

I hope it stays. I not only hope, I pray. I really really want it to. But even a small taste of relief, gone tomorrow, is an answer to my prayers from G-d. Even if He can’t take away the full burden, for reasons only He knows, He lightened the load a little for me.

 

The though I bring to you today is this: In a strategy game I play sometimes, if you make a fatal move you can reverse, undo, and try to choose a better one. You don’t get that in real life, unfortunately (but yet fortunately, more on that later) but the closest most of us will ever get is during these next ten days of teshuvah. We get an opportunity to look back at what we did, restart, and use the new year well. And if we do, it wipes the slate of the past clean.

Wishing all of you that 5776 be a year of growth, healing, blessing and light in all areas of life. See you at the Bais Hamikdash!

Good news

After a bad day today, I davened, as I often do, for good news.

“Please G-d, good news! Any Good News!”

Considering I was thinking more along the lines of Moshiach, world peace (the same thing, really) or something else epic, I didn’t really connect this teffilah with the call from my brother until now.

He mentioned a CD I loved, that I wasn’t able to get a personal copy of, and asked me if I’d like a free copy. No joke. I still don’t know how, but he was able to get a few. Not what I wanted, but it comforted me greatly.

Maybe you could call this just coincidence. Maybe G-d didn’t personally pull the strings this time, and I’ll never know for sure. But it reminded me of all the times where He has.

Tisha B’Av update 3

There’s violence and vandalism all over today. All over.

Someone snuck into an Agudah camp (first thought– thank G-d it’s not my brother’s Agudah camp, my parents would be so scared. Second thought– but it’s a lot of other people’s brothers’ Agudah camp.) No one was hurt, but swastikas were put on many parts of the property.

A Shul in Bnei Brak was vandalized– the damage was not listed, but it looked overturned and burnt in some areas. (Second search– the Aharon Kodesh was set on fire. Chasdi Hashem, the scrolls inside are all unharmed.)

Another Shul in Modiin was booby-trapped. The doors were blocked from outside, trapping the people praying inside.

Last night, a confrontation broke out at Maarat Hamachpelah.

In all of these incidents, no one was hurt. I am pathetically grateful that the shaking has started only on physical objects, (excluding at Maarat Hamachpelah, where pepper spray was used, but no injuries are reported.) But how much longer can we expect this

Still clinging on

Waking up this morning was a real shock to the system. It hit me, suddenly. Today is Friday. The fast is in 48 hours– less, even. Somehow, I didn’t think I’d still be here. Moshiach, where are you? We were supposed to meet yesterday!

That’s the one hard thing of constant belief and optimism, of still being a complete Maamin no matter what. You will get let down. And it hurts. If you intensely believe that the Redemption will come that day, watching the sun go down can shatter you. Even as you think, ‘so tomorrow, then,’ a voice says, ‘why not today?’ Even as you say ‘there’s one more weekday until Tisha b’Av,’ it’s easy to think, ‘we’re running out of time. We had a week and now we have a day.’

I don’t give up. Even when a car horn in the silence makes me stiffen and my heart pound. Even when there’s Shofar blowing somewhere in the building, and someone jokingly yells ‘Moshiach,’ and even as you scowl for them making fun of something so sacred, you wonder if they could be right. And you cry when they’re not.

This turned into a very long good morning. But you understand, don’t you? What it’s like to have a shattered spirit but still cling to hope. One can’t always just say, ‘So if not today, then tomorrow,’ with a smile. If the ‘not today’ doesn’t cause pain, where will you get the strength for the ‘tomorrow?’ Sometimes, the roller coaster of hope and despair gets the better of me.

But today, I’ll go down fighting. Moshiach won’t just randomly show up. He’s waiting for us to bring him in.

Spot the connection

Mim’s post brought up an interesting thought. What does Sfira– counting up towards accepting the Torah– have to do with being kind to one-another. Is it just a coincidence that the death of Rabbi Akiva’s students died during the count-up to Matan Torah?

The post was due weeks ago so I’m condensing it now.

Rabbi Hillel said that the foundation of the Torah is ‘V’ahavtah Leracha Kmocha’– Loving your fellow like yourself. Without it, Torah cannot be sustained.

Whatever the sin of Rabbi Akiva’s students did (and there are many many interesting opinions,) they are said to not have been on the highest level of love for each other.

We don’t just wait to receive the Torah, we are actively preparing ourselves for it. Preparing ourselves to be the foundations of Torah.

Without Torah, there is no life. And without respect, love, and consideration for each other, there can be no Torah.

 

See you all at Har Sinai!

The brightest light in the darkest place

http://unitedwithisrael.org/the-holocaust-picture-that-offended-facebook/

To me, the point is not that Facebook flagged the photo, or why, or people’s reactions. To me, the biggest deal is not even the photo itself. Thank you Esther, for bringing this photo to my attention, and thank you Miriam, for adding light to a dark world. To me, the point is in Miriam’s own words, quoted by her father, who is quoted at the above link. For the remainder of the article, see their website.

As I searched for an applicable quote to close off this posting in honour of Yom HaShoah, I realized that a very appropriate quote would be the following excerpt from my daughter Miriam’s diary of her recent trip to the death camps of Poland:

“Today was kind of a gap day… The fill in day… And yet, it was one of the saddest days of my trip to Poland…

“Today, we visited a mass grave. Yes, on this program, we’ve been to many and I never cried at any of them. Not as much as I cried here. You see, this mass grave is different… This mass grave holds 700 children. Yes, you heard me… Children.

“Alone, frightened and clinging to whatever family they had with them, if they even had any left to cling to… Nazis shot them… The children… And for what? Because they couldn’t produce… They were useless to the Reich and so, they were shot… Murdered…

“These sweet children… Gone. No longer can we hear their sweet laughter or small feet dancing. No longer can we see the smiles on their faces or the innocent look in their beautiful eyes… Children that didn’t have the chance to live; to become and live their dreams. Stolen from us by the worst animal of all…

“I sat motionless at that mass grave. What else was I able to do? I was barely able to hold my head up… It hurt me more than anything. I don’t think there was one person on our program that didn’t shed a tear when we stood there listening to our rabbi talk about his family and how these children must have felt in their last moments…

“Then he did something I will remember forever.

“He said to us, “These children never got a chance to see the holy land or let alone be buried there. We should give them that chance…” He then proceeded to pick up a box full of dirt. “This,” he said, “is from my backyard. This is soil from Israel. If they can’t be buried in Israel, then we will bring Israel to them. Their light will forever live inside us. Whoever wants, can come take a hand full of soil and sprinkle it over the grave.”

“We all stood around him, frozen. We literally were frozen in place and suddenly I saw a hand reach out and take a handful of dirt and when the hand touched the soft soil, I realized that the hand was mine.

“I looked at the Rabbi and just for a moment, our eyes met. I guess it was a kind of comfort for me… I walked over to the grave and soon others did the same. I looked over that blue painted fence and in my mind, as I held that soil for just a moment longer, the shabbat blessing that a father and mother gives their child came to my mind. Over and over it ran through my head as I watched the wind scatter the soil across the grave.

“Tears just fell freely and all I was able to do was sit there as tears just kept falling. I was frozen at the fact that they were all gone… For no reason other than hatred… These beautiful children are the light in the darkness and their light will forever live on through me and through every breath I take. These children play at the foot of G-d’s Kiseh Hakavod [throne] now.

“Take care of them for me, please… They are with You now.”

– Miriam Ciss, March 27, 2015, Poland

Thank you for sharing these words with us. Though deeply personal, they have something to teach the entire world. Thank you for teaching us a lesson from history, so that we never repeat it. May this bring merit to the children’s memories, all 700 and 1 of them.

Yom Ha’Zikaron

We just watched a video of the funeral of one of the soldiers who was killed this summer during the war. One soldier. One soldier, a huge void in the world. And there are sixty six more. And all the civilians. And the people who’ve died to terror attacks, unspeakable tragedies that should never have happened.

If G-d allowed it to happen, then it must be good. Why does it hurt so much?

For me, it’s not just human pain, but guilt. These are the pains before Moshiach, but they are not inevitable. They are to wake us up and bring us together. If we were already there, the pain we now feel, the pain of mothers and fathers and sisters and fiancees and brothers and wives and children, might not have happened.

Maybe this is what G-d intended. Guilt, however crushing, is not the answer.

All we need to do is to remember the pain. Remember how we feel when our nation is attacked. Remember that pain every time you forget the value a single soul has. Remember this pain EVERY TIME you encounter another Jew. Treat them as though the fate of the world, the fate of every human being, rests on how you treat this person.

Because it does.