This time last year we were preparing for the worst.
The dread was palpable as people anticipated the end
of the world, in the form of the deportation of
thousands of Jews from their home, Gush Katiff.
I remember the feelings, as expressed in words, sighs
and tears. I remember the subsequent actualization of
our fears. People tore their garments in mourning for
their torn hearts. It was armageddon, and evil won.
Alas, following the pattern of renewal and rebirth, as
embedded in our national DNA, we rose again like a
phoenix from the ashes. Pain is still felt and tears
are yet shed; but the passionate hearts beat on.
Unbelievably, we have now reached levels which were
not yet reached at the time of the tragedy.
One obvious outcome of the whole tragic affair is our
re-committed rejection of the intrinsically false
promises of security and peace made by fallible men of flesh and blood. We now know that we have none upon whom to lean, save our Father in heaven.
The pains and perils our nation has endured throughout history always struck me as amazing. I wondered, how did the individuals pull through? Sure, I understand that there is a narrative and a divine plan. But how does a simple man or woman--a person whose experience is limited to his or her own life, and who therefore lacks the perspective of narrative, which allows for all sorts of tragedies contingent upon the promised end, the ultimate Redemption,--learn to move ahead and not lose faith?
Naturally, as this was the subject of my musings, I
considered many possible options. I thought, maybe
there really was no process, but a supernatural
programming that just got us up, time and again, when we fell. It wasn't a thing to be meditated upon; it just happened. Another option was that while in our
own minds the lack of narrative and evident purpose
may have been crushing, we have always merited to have amongst us those who have had the oversight and depth needed to remind us of that promised end, and the role that the crushing past has in bringing about that very end.
(One such historical figure who immediately comes to mind is Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai. R' Yochanan Ben
Zakkai stood in the midst of all the pain and suffering of the people of Jerusalem, and envisioned a future form for that very nation. He then acted with self-sacrifice, and implemented his vision of "Yavneh
v'chachomeha," a vision that saved our people. In our
generation, a figure like the Lubavitcher Rebbe guided us through what seemed like a fatal bout of secularism and apathy and showed us the way to that promised end which is no longer in a distant future but an imminent reality.)
Or maybe the sufferers of Zion awoke on the morning
after the infliction and they saw the sun rise and
they inhaled the fresh morning air, and they fell in
love with G-d all over again, despite all the misunderstandings and misgivings.
Either way, regardless of which answer is the correct
one --and they are all true on different levels,--the
fact remains that a retrospective should fill us with
pride. In every generation we resisted, at times with
more success and at times with less, and here we are,
at the end of history, strong as ever, in body and in
soul, awaiting our promised redemption.
And just as our commitment to G-d remains strong, it is obvious that His commitment to us is also unflinching. The miracles observed between the pains experienced these last few weeks serve to reinforce our faith. On both sides of our relationship with G-d, apathy and disregard have been replaced by resolve and commitment.