Friday, July 4, 2014

Mission: Impossible?

What a long, hard week this has been. After eighteen difficult, uncertain days waiting for news about our three kidnapped brothers, our hope sprinkled with anguish, we heard the final, tragic news of their brutal deaths.
 But, despite all the heartache and tears from those events, the thing that pained me most is what happened afterwards.
Ninety nine percent of my corner of the internet was filled with articles, stories, and all sorts of propaganda laden with commentary about violence and retaliation on our end. About more bloodshed through revenge and anger. And then, counter articles degrading the fellow Jews suggesting those actions along with endless negative reports about Israel.
Why was this so bothersome? I'll explain it based on a possuk from this week's parsha, Balak.

Balak, the King of Moav, is afraid of the Israelites who will soon be passing through his homeland on their way to Israel. So, in the hopes of destroying them, he hires a non-Jewish prophet, Bil'am, to cast terrible curses upon them. As the story goes on, we see that God did not allow Bil'am to do this and, miraculously, He turned the curses in his mouth into a series of beautiful and poetic blessings for the people of Israel.

The very first of the curses that became blessings, goes like this:
"Hen Am Levadad Yishkon Uvagoyim Lo Yischashuv" -"Behold it is a nation that will dwell in solitude and not be reckoned among the nations."

Apropos much?

Yes, we have felt lonelier than ever as a nation during the last 20ish days. How much attention has our story of abduction received in the press? How much support have we received from world leaders?  Not much. 
But, I can't really blame them, what with way bigger things going on in the world. 
They're not my problem.
This isn't the loneliness that dispirited me.

Our aloneness is not about isolation, distrust or discomfort from the other nations; but rather about unconditional unity and solidarity among the Jewish nation. That no matter what, I got your back and you've got mine.
The unity that formed during the infamous 18 days of hope, was stronger than I've ever seen among us. Jews from every corner of the world, of every color and form, united together in prayer, action and thought. United with one common goal: to #BringBackOurBoys. 
That was all that mattered. 
Because, when a family member is suffering, we are all in pain. And with the tragic ending to the story, each one of us lost a piece of our hearts along with them. 
The connection we formed all across the globe, was inspiring, enriching, and empowering. 

And that's why what happened afterwards was such a deep stab in the heart.

Revenge? Counter attacks? Bombings? More violence? More bloodshed?

Yes, we need to recognize evil and reject it. We need to be passionate about right and wrong.
 But, as Jews, we always take the high road. We don't stoop to the level of our attackers. 
We can never stop terror. Making peace when only one party wants it is a mission impossible. Our job is not to stop terror, we will never succeed at it.
Our job is to continue living! To unite as one, with a common goal, hold each others' hands, and plow through! To never let them break our spirit! To never let them break our unity!

Because, yes, we are alone. We are alone in our uniquness, in our connection with God, and in our common bond; the Torah. 

And just like we were able to unite so strongly during times of darkness, we need to spread that unity and carry it into the light. More tolerance, more empathy, more warmth, more smiles, more love.
The more unity we have, the less jealousy there is in the world. The more compassion we have, the less judgement there is.
Are we really, truly, sincerely happy for our friends' successes? Do we honestly wish for their uninterrupted joy and blessing?

There's a quote Ive seen that's gotten quite a bit of attention:
"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down."
I disagree.
Most of the time, we run to help people when the bus breaks down, but turn our noses up when they're riding in their limo's. Real unity, real uniquness, real love, means feeling the happiness and success of our friends' and not just their sorrows. 

We are a nation in solitude. We are one with each other because we are one with Hashem.

Have a beautiful shabbos!