This miserable weather we're having really suits my mood. The air is overly dry and hazy. It's hot and still. In spring and fall as the weather changes from cold to hot and then back again, there are periods like this. It's called sharav in Hebrew and hamsin in Arabic.
I arrived to a sharav on my very first trip to Israel in April 1994. I left Denver with snow on the mountains and emerged at Ben Gurion to 105 F. What a difference---spruce trees to palm trees. I loved it then and the love has only deepened and broadened. I love this place: this land, this people, this religion. Baruch atah Hashem, Elokeinu, Melekh Ha'olam for not having made me a gentile.
I keep going back in my mind to the library at Mercaz HaRav. How ironic that the only time I was ever there, it was for a megillah reading---Megillat Esther. It's their custom to have separate readings for women, several of them in fact, so that they can leave their children at home with the fathers at some point. It's a mitzvah to hear every single word and that's impossible if you're carrying an infant or tending to a toddler. I remember that the reader did voices for the main characters. I enjoyed it so very much. I'm tearing up as I write this just thinking about it and knowing what transpired there last Thursday night.
I'm working on a new slide presentation about "East" Jerusalem. I figure when I finish that, I'm going to do a macabre one called Jerusalem Terror Tour. It'll highlight all the places I know of where someone blew up or shot up Jews. There is not a single time when I go downtown that I don't see these places and remember what happened there. If I preserve it in bits and bytes and pixels, maybe my mind will find some rest.
I thought back to something I wrote a month ago: "Before we calm ourselves with the thought that the Purim connection bodes well for us, we must remember that everything turned hafukh on Purim only because Am Yisrael fasted and prayed and did massive teshuva beforehand."
This time period contains within it all that we need to succeed against our enemies. But it's not some magical spell or formula that works just because a page on the calendar is turned. We have to work for it and earn it. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but it truly can't be said often enough...
Teshuva, teshuva, teshuva...keeping in mind that it's not enough to feel sorry for wrongdoing. We have to correct the errors and make them right again. Put into practical terms, it means it's not enough to be sorry that eight boys were murdered. And incidentally while that was happening another soldier died of his wounds, a mother and daughter perished in a car crash and another woman was murdered by her husband in front of her daughter.
We have to be sorry that we have broken our covenant with Hashem and thereby blemished the world. To make it right, we have to renew our commitment to the covenant and to fulfilling it in every one of its aspects to the very best of our abilities.
You know, Hashem sent us a leader who could have...would have...led us on a path that would have bypassed Madrid, Oslo, Road Map, Annapolis ad infinitum. We could have avoided all the terror, the ever-flowing blood in the streets. You know who I'm talking about. But, we preferred the emptiness of western (so-called) 'values, norms and morality.' Well, see where that has brought us!!
We "sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind." G-d have mercy on us!
Moshe Rabbeinu tried to lead us into the Promised Land 3500 years ago and we balked then, too! We were afraid and refused to fulfill the commitment we had just made at Har Sinai. At least then, when we heard the punishment, we were quick to turn around and correct our bad behavior, but it was already too late for that and the entire generation had to perish in the wilderness.
Forty years of wandering just to end up right back at the beginning again to do the same thing we could have done forty years earlier. Well, you know what? There is no escaping Jewish destiny! We're gonna circle around and circle around and come right back again to that same point until we get it right and all the suffering in the between time was so very avoidable. And that is the real horror and the real pain of it all!
We are at the end of the road, people. When Hashem sends us another leader, we are going to have to be willing to follow him all the way---no more balking, no more circling around, no more do-overs. If you're not prepared and ready to do what has to be done, you'd better be prepared to be taken out of the way. Nothing and no one will be allowed to stand in the way of the geulah shleimah.
Think about what you're praying for three times a day. Think about whether you really mean it...or not.
Message for the Week of Parshat Balak 5773
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