DRASHAH: ROSH HASHANAH 2ND DAY, 2015

Rabbi Meirovich, Adath Israel Congregation

DRASHAH: ROSH HASHANAH 2ND DAY, 2015
​ – – – – – – – – – – – –

IN CELEBRATION OF THEIR SON BECOMING BAR MITZVAH, A FAMILY SENT

THE FOLLOWING INVITATION:
“IT IS WITH GREAT STRESS, EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL FATIGUE AND INCREDIBLE FINANCIAL SACRIFICE BEYOND COMPREHENSION, THAT WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US AS OUR WONDERFUL SON JACOB ADAM IS CALLED TO THE TORAH. DATE: SATURDAY, MAY 12 (YES­WE DO REALIZE THAT IT’S MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND). PLACE: TEMPLE ISRAEL, 14 COLETOWN ROAD, WESTPORT, CONNECTICUT AT THE UNGODLY HOUR OF 9 A.M. EVEN THOUGH YOU DON’T REALLY NEED TO BE THERE UNTIL 10:20 TO CATCH THE REAL ACTION. IF YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE 3 HOUR SERVICE, PLEASE SKIP THE KIDDUSH (IT’S JUST COOKIES AND CAKES) AND JOIN US INSTEAD FOR THE OSTENTATIOUS EVENING MEAL (KOSHER­MY HUSBAND’S IDEA) WHICH WILL START AT 7 P.M. (NOT 8 P.M. OR YOU WILL MISS OUT ON THE H’OERDERVES. LOCATION: BIRCHWOOD COUNTRY CLUB WHICH WE HAD TO JOIN JUST FOR THIS EVENT AND YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE THE INITIATION FEES. SO, PLEASE HAVE THE COURTESY OF SHOWING UP IF YOU RSVP THAT YOU ARE ATTENDING, OR YOU WILL BE BILLED FOR $210 A PLATE IF YOU ARE A NO­SHOW. PLEASE RSVP AS SOON AS YOU GET THIS AND AND NOT A DAY BEFORE THE CUT­OFF DATE. I JUST CAN’T TAKE THE STRESS! THE GIFT OF CHOICE IS EITHER GREEN OR CONTAINS A ROUTING AND ACCOUNT NUMBER. HOPE YOU CAN MAKE IT.! SIGNED: LISA AND DAVID MILLER.”

TALK ABOUT A ‘CREATIVE INVITE. IF I HAD NOT ACTUALLY READ THIS INVITATION, I WOULD HAVE FOUND IT VERY, VERY HARD TO BELIEVE THAT PARENTS COULD SEND THIS TO FAMILY AND FRIENDS. BUT, TO ACTUALLY SEE AND READ SUCH AN INVITE MADE ME REALIZE THAT THERE ARE TIMES THAT I SIMPLY HAVE TO ACCEPT THE IDEA THAT ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING.’

AND IT’S THIS STARTLING CONCEPT OF ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’ THAT I WISH TO EXPLORE WITH YOU TODAY, SINCE WE ARE ASKED TO BELIEVE AS A MATTER OF FAITH, THAT AVRAHAM IS WILLING TO TAKE THE LIFE OF HIS BELOVED SON YITZCHAK. WHY? BECAUSE GOD COMMANDED HIM TO DO SO. AS A RESULT, ‘THE AKEDAH, THE BINDING OF ISAAC EMERGED AS THE MODEL FOR JEWISH MARTYROLOGY­­TO DIE ‘​AL KEDUSHAT HASHEM,​’ FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF GOD’S NAME. SO HERE’S MY QUESTION? WOULD YOU BE PREPARED LIKE AVRAHAM TO GIVE UP THE LIFE OF YOUR CHILD? IF YOU THINK THAT SUCH A QUESTION IS BEYOND THE PALE OF RATIONAL THINKING, THEN LISTEN TO THIS STORY THAT EMERGED FROM THE ANNALS OF THE SHOA: ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING.’

IT WAS EREV ROSH HASHANAH, 1944 WHEN THE NAZI COMMANDER OF AUSCHWITZ IMPRISONED 1400 BOYS BETWEEN THE AGES OF 14­18 WHO WERE WERE NOT STRONG ENOUGH TO WORK. MOTHERS AND FATHERS PLEADED WITH THE JEWISH KAPOS TO RELEASE THE BOYS, BUT THEY REPLIED SAYING THAT THE NAZIS HAD TAKEN AN EXACT HEAD COUNT. ANY CHILDREN MISSING WOULD RESULT IN THEIR OWN EXECUTION.

RABBI TZVEE HIRSH MEISELS, A PRISONER IN AUSCHWITZ WAS APPROACHED BY A FATHER THAT HIS ONLY SON WAS AMONG THOSE ABOUT TO BE EXECUTED AND THAT HE HAD THE MEANS WHEREBY TO BRIBE THE JEWISH KAPOS AND THUS SAVE THE LIFE OF HIS BELOVED SON. BUT, HE ALSO REALIZED THAT IF HE DID SO, ANOTHER YOUNGSTER WOULD BE SUBSTITUTED FOR HIS OWN, AND SO HE REQUESTED THAT THE RABBI GIVE HIM A ‘​PSAK DIN’​­A HALACHIC RULING AS TO WHETHER THE LIFE OF HIS ONLY SON COULD BE SAVED AT THE EXPENSE OF ANOTHER. RABBI MEISELS PLEADED WITH THE FATHER NOT TO ASK FOR HALACHIC GUIDANCE IN THIS MATTER SINCE HE HAD NO COLLEAGUES AND RABBINIC WRITINGS TO CONSULT. THE FATHER FINALLY SAID TO THE RAV: “RABBI….IF YOU CANNOT TELL ME THAT I MAY RANSOM BY SON, IT’S CLEAR THAT IN YOUR OWN MIND YOU ARE NOT CERTAIN THAT JEWISH LAW PERMITS IT. FOR IF YOU WERE CERTAIN THAT IT IS ALLOWED, YOU WOULD UNQUESTIONABLY HAVE TOLD ME SO. YOUR EVASION IS TANTAMOUNT TO A CLEAR DECISION THAT I AM FORBIDDEN TO DO SO. MY ONLY SON WILL LOSE HIS LIFE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TORAH AND HALACHA. I ACCEPT THE ALMIGHTY’S COMMAND WITH LOVE AND JOY. I WILL DO NOTHING TO RANSOM HIM AT THE COST OF ANOTHER INNOCENT LIFE, FOR THIS IS THE TORAH’S DECREE.

RABBI MEISELS RELATED THAT THE ENTIRE DAY OF ROSH HASHANAH, THE FATHER WENT ABOUT MURMURING JOYFULLY THAT HE HAD MERITED SACRIFICING HIS SON’S LIFE IN OBEDIENCE TO THE WILL OF THE CREATOR AND HIS TORAH. HE PRAYED THAT HIS ACT MIGHT BE ACCEPTABLE BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY AS WAS AVRAHAM’S ‘AKEDAT YITZCHAK­THE BINDING OF HIS BELOVED SON ISAAC.” (TRADITION, 25 (3) 1991, P. 41­42)

THIS ACT OF SELF­SACRIFICE ON THE PART OF THIS FATHER, ECHOES THE THEOCENTRIC THEOLOGY OF CHASSIDEI ASHKENAZ­THE JEWISH PIETISTS OF 12TH CENTURY GERMANY WHO EMPHASIZED THAT TO
S A C R I F I C E O N E ’ S L I F E ‘ A​L K E D U S H A T H A S H E M ’ ­ F​O R T H E S A N C T I F I C A T I O N OF GOD’S NAME,’ WAS NOT ONLY MERITORIOUS, BUT OBLIGATORY, BECAUSE ‘PIETY DEMANDED DOING MORE THAN THE LAW REQUIRED. IT DEMANDED FULFILLING GOD’S IMPLICIT AS WELL AS EXPLICIT WILL.’(IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD, BYRON SHERWIN, P. 61) THEREFORE, WHEN ADDRESSING THE QUESTION: WHEN DO WE ACKNOWLEDGE THAT GOD IS TRULY OUR GOD, THESE MEDIEVAL PIETISTS ANSWERED: “WHEN WE ARE SLAUGHTERED LIKE SHEEP FOR THE SANCTIFICATION OF HIS NAME.” (IN PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD, P. 234) IT WAS THIS KIND OF RELIGIOUS RESPONSE TO SUFFERING IN THE FACE OF EVIL THAT BROUGHT A MEASURE OF N​ECHAMAH­​OF CONSOLATION TO SO MANY JEWS WHO FACED THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE CHRISTIAN CRUSADES AND SO MANY OTHER UNSPEAKABLE TRAGEDIES OF JEWISH SUFFERING THROUGHOUT THE

A G E S . T H I S W A S T​H E I R S​P I R I T U A L A N S W E R T O T H E B I B L I C A L QUESTION“WHY O’LORD DO YOU STAND ALOOF, HEEDLESS IN TIMES OF TROUBLE?”

YET, FOR THIS FATHER WHO SACRIFICED HIS SON, HE CHOSE NOT TO ASK THAT QUESTION. THE ISSUE OF THEODICY, AS TO WHY A GOD OF JUSTICE WOULD PERMIT THE SUFFERING OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED SIMPLY WAS NOT ON HIS RADAR SCREEN. RATHER, IN HIS MOMENT OF DESPAIR HE SOUGHT AN ALTERNATIVE ANSWER TO HIS SUFFERING. AS ELI WIESEL DECLARES: “ONE MUST IMPOSE MEANING ON WHAT PERHAPS HAS NONE, AND DRAW ECSTASY FROM NAMELESS, FACELESS PAIN.”(JUDAIC ETHICS FOR A LAWLESS WORLD, ROBERT GORDIS, P. 86) IN OTHER WORDS, FOR THIS GRIEVING FATHER, HIS SACRIFICIAL ACT WAS ALL ABOUT THE MEMORY OF THE AKEDAH AND FULFILLING THE MITZVAH ‘A​L KEDUSHAT HASHEM’​THAT ENABLED HIM TO BETTER COPE WITH THE LOSS OF HIS PRECIOUS CHILD, AND WE AS OBSERVERS BEAR WITNESS TO AN EXTRAORDINARY ‘ACT OF EMUNAH­OF BELIEF IN THE EFFICACY OF JEWISH LAW.” ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’ AS WE EMPATHIZE WITH THE PAIN OF A TORTURED SOUL SHAKEN TO ITS VERY CORE, STRUGGLING TO FIND A DEEPER MEANING IN THIS MOMENT OF UNBEARABLE SADNESS.

SIMPLY PUT, THIS FATHER’S ACTIONS COMPEL US TO TRY TO BETTER COMPREHEND THE WORKINGS OF OUR WORLD NOT FROM A HUMAN PERSPECTIVE, BUT FROM GOD’S POINT OF VIEW. AS THE WORDS OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH RING CLEAR THROUGH THE CENTURIES: “​KEE LO MACHSH’VOTAY MACHSH’VOTEICHEM­​­ MY THOUGHTS ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS, NOR ARE MY WAYS, YOUR WAYS…AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGH ABOVE THE EARTH, SO ARE MY THOUGHTS ABOVE YOUR THOUGHTS.” (55:8) FOR SO MANY OF OUR ANCESTORS THEY LINKED THEIR SPIRITUAL DESTINY TO THE GOD OF MYSTERY AND MAJESTY AS THEY ENVISIONED THEMSELVES WALKING IN THE SAME FOOTSTEPS AS THIS FATHER WHO WAS PREPARED TO SACRIFICE THE LIFE OF HIS SON BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT HALACHA DEMANDED OF HIM. HIS ACT OF EMUNAH CONFIRMED THAT SUCH AN EXISTENTIAL MOMENT CONFIRMED AN UNSHAKEN BELIEF IN THE GOD OF ISRAEL, THE TORAH AND THE ULTIMATE SURVIVAL OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE. (HESCHEL, GOD IN SEARCH OF MAN, PAGES 6, 7, 19­20)

SO WE SEE THAT ON ONE LEVEL THE NOTION TO SURRENDER ONE’S LIFE ‘A​L KEDUSHAT HASHEM’ ​ECHOES THE RELIGIOUS POSTURE THAT THERE ARE INDEED CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH HALACHA ELEVATES THE SURRENDER OF ONE’S LIFE TO THE LEVEL OF MARTYROLOGY. YET, ON A DIFFERENT LEVEL, THIS BELIEF ‘TO SANCTIFY GOD’S NAME ‘ ALSO BIRTHED A NEW AND REVOLUTIONARY IDEA THAT EMERGED DURING THE SHOAH CALLED : A​DONEY HAMAVET ­​­TO BECOME MASTERS OF ONE’S OWN DEATH.’ IN HIS BOOK ENTITLED:​WRESTLING UNTIL DAY BREAK:SEARCHING FOR MEANING IN THE THINKING OF THE HOLOCAUST:​ELIEZER SCHWEID ACCURATELY PORTRAYS THE NAZI WAR MACHINE BENT ON THE TOTAL ANNIHILATION OF WORLD JEWRY. SIMPLY PUT, THE NAZIS WOULD NOT REST UNTIL EVERY JEW WAS WIPED OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH. THUS, THE TRADITIONAL UNDERSTANDING OF MARTYROLOGY AS ESPOUSED BY CHASSIDEI ASHKENAZ, NOW UNDERWENT A RADICAL TRANSFORMATION WHEREBY“THE VICTIMS OF SUCH EVIL MUST RESIST AND FIGHT AGAINST IT IN ORDER TO TEAR IT OUT AT ITS ROOTS…IT MEANT WRESTLING FOR SURVIVAL , NOT MERELY ON THE PHYSICAL OR BIOLOGICAL LEVEL, BUT AGAINST THE NAZI ATTEMPTS TO REDUCE JEWISH EXISTENCE, IN ITS SPIRITUAL DIMENSION TO NAUGHT…TO DIE ‘A​L KEDUSHAT HASHEM’​NOW TOOK ON A NEW MEANING. “ONLY THOSE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO PREFER DEATH IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST EVIL TO LIFE UNDER THE YOKE OF EVIL, CAN DEFEND THE SANCTITY OF THEIR OWN LIVES AND HOLD FAST TO THE HOPE THAT THEY OR SOME OF THEIR FRIENDS, BUT SURELY THE JEWISH PEOPLE WILL SURVIVE FOR A LIFE THAT IS WORTH LIVING.

THOSE WHO BASED THEIR LIVES ON THIS INSIGHT REGAINED THEIR CAPACITY TO CHOOSE THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE EVENTS FORCED UPON THEM…IF LIFE HAS AN AIM, IT IS POSSIBLE TO ACCEPT DEATH IN DIGNITY AND TRANQUILITY…THE ONLY POSSIBLE VICTORY WAS THE MORAL VICTORY WHICH WAS IDENTIFIED WITH THE DECISION AND ACTUAL ACT OF RESISTANCE…(PAGE 176­7, 181) THE RELIGIOUS CONCEPT OF DYING ‘​AL KEDUSHAT HASHEM’​WAS NOW TRANSFORMED INTO A SECULAR NOTION TO CHOOSE ONE’S DEATH WHILE ACTIVELY CONFRONTING NAZISM IN THE SEWERS OF THE GHETTO; THE BOMBING OF THE CREMATORIA OR EVEN THE LIGHTING OF THE CHANUKIAH IN MEMORY OF THE MILITARY MIGHT OF THE MACCABEES. ANY OR ALL OF THESE ACTS MAY HAVE RESULTED IN DEATH­BUT A DEATH AS VICTOR AND NOT VICTIM.

I SUGGEST THAT THESE TWO UNIQUE VIEWS ECHOING A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE AKEDAH AND MARTYROLOGY COMPELS US AS CANADIAN JEWS, BLESSED TO BE LIVING IN FREEDOM, TO REVISIT THE TREASURE HOUSE OF JEWISH THEOLOGICAL BELIEFS ABOUT GOD AND THE NUMEROUS PERSPECTIVES VIS A VIS JEWISH SURVIVAL. IF OUR CHILDREN, OUR GRANDCHILDREN AND OUR GREAT­GRANDCHILDREN ARE TO HAVE ANY HOPE IN LIVING A VIBRANT, MEANINGFUL JUDAISM WELL INTO THE 21ST CENTURY, THEN THE TIME HAS COME TO RETURN TO THE FUNDAMENTALS OF JEWISH STUDY, TO REFASHION AND TO REBUILD OUR JEWISH IDENTITY. HOW? TO OFFER AS AN INTEGRAL COMPONENT OF JEWISH EDUCATION AN IN DEPTH EXPLORATION OF THE RATIONALISTIC PHILOSOPHIES OF A MAIMONIDES OR A MORDECHAI KAPLAN; THE MYSTICAL TEXTS OF THE ZOHAR AND THE WRITINGS OF AN ABRAHAM JOSHUAH HESCHEL; THE SUBLIME THEOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CONCEPTS EMBEDDED WITHIN JEWISH LITURGY; THE RABBINIC COMMENTARIES SYSTEMIC TO MIDRASHIC AND TALMUDIC LITERATURE AS THE BASIS FOR THE ORGANIC DEVELOPMENT OF HALACHA, JEWISH LAW AND TO EXPLORE THE VAST PANORAMA OF THEOLOGICAL RESPONSES TO THE SHOAH. THROUGH SUCH SACRED DISCIPLINES WE CAN AND WE MUST PROVIDE THE SCHOLARLY AND EXPERIENTIAL FRAMEWORK TO NURTURE BOTH THE INTELLECT AND THE SPIRIT SO THAT WE TOO CAN WALK IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF OUR ANCESTORS AS WE FORGE OUR OWN DIVERGENT AND UNIQUE PATHS OF TORAH STUDY PREGNANT WITH PERSONAL MEANING.

IT’S THIS QUALITY OF LIMUD TORAH­OF TORAH STUDY THAT CONSTITUTES HIGHER JUDAIC LEARNING THAT WE, WHO CONTROL THE PURSE­STRINGS OF JEWISH EDUCATION IN BOTH THE AFTERNOON RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS AND DAY SCHOOLS MUST PROVIDE L’DOR VADOR’­FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS OF JEWS THE OPPORTUNITY TO SEEK VIABLE AND MEANINGFUL ANSWERS TO LIFE’S ULTIMATE QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS LIKE THEODICY THAT STRIKE AT THE VERY CORE OF JEWISH BELIEF.  HERE IN CANADA, WE ARE BLESSED TO LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY WHERE WE HAVE THE FREEDOM TO NOURISH THE SOULS OF OUR JEWISH YOUTH.

WE HAVE A UNIQUE RESPONSIBILITY ­EVEN A SACRED OBLIGATION TO DO ALL THAT WE CAN TO STRENGTHEN JEWISH IDENTITY L’DOR VADOR. ACKNOWLEDGING A SENSE OF COMPLACENCY, WE HAVE FAILED IN OUR PRIMARY TASK BY SEEKING THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR IN OUR AFTERNOON RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS OFFERING IN MANY INSTANCES A ONE DAY SUPPLEMENTARY AFTERNOON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION. HERE AT ADATH ISRAEL WE CONTINUE TO PROVIDE A TWO DAY CURRICULUM ALONGSIDE OUR HEBREW HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM. WHEN IT COMES TO DAY SCHOOL EDUCATION, HOW CAN WE POSSIBLY EXPECT TO NURTURE THE NEXT GENERATION OF JEWISH LEADERSHIP IF THEY ARE NOT PROVIDED WITH THE CRUCIAL INTELLECTUAL AND EXPERIENTIAL TOOLS WITH WHICH TO CHOOSE FROM AS THEY ARE AND WILL CONTINUE TO BE EXPOSED TO HIGHER SECULAR EDUCATION ON THE UNIVERSITY CAMPUS. AS RABBI TARFON HAS WARNED: “H​AYOM KATZEIR­V’HAMLACHA M’RUBAH”­​­THE DAY IS SHORT­THE TASK IS ABUNDANT. HAYOM, TODAY WE MUST MAKE THE CHOICE TO FREELY AND LOVINGLY OPEN OUR PURSE STRINGS TO FULFILL OUR MANDATE IN ENSURING THAT THE FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL BE ABLE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WE, THIS BLESSED GENERATION DID ALL THAT WE COULD TO PROVIDE FOR THE SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF CANADIAN JEWRY.

I SUGGEST THAT INDEED IF WE CAN ACCOMPLISH THIS MOST FORMIDABLE TASK, THAT FUTURE GENERATIONS OF JEWS WILL POSSESS THE NECESSARY SPIRITUAL TOOLS TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE PHILOSOPHICAL WRITINGS OF AN ELIEZER SCHWEID WHO REMINDS US: “PRECISELY BECAUSE IT WAS WITHIN THE OBJECTIVE POSSIBILITY OF THE JEW TO INTERPRET HIS SUFFERING AND DEATH AS A MEANINGFUL RELIGIOUS ACT WHICH HE FREELY CHOSE, ONE CAN DETECT THE SOURCE OF A CONVINCING RELIGIOUS RESPONSE TO THE PROBLEM OF THEODICY…” LIKE AVRAHAM AND THE AKEIDAH, SUFFERING WAS A TRIAL THAT HAD MEANING AND PURPOSE.”(PAGE 187­8)

TO PLACE THIS INTO CONTEMPORARY TERMS: AS THE PARENTS OF THE BAR MITZVAH CREATIVELY FASHIONED AND TRANSFORMED WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN A RUN­OF­THE­MILL INVITATION INTO A UNIQUE, VERY PERSONAL AND CREATIVE, ‘OUT OF THE BOX’ LITERARY INVITE, SO TOO, IF THE VAST TREASURE HOUSE OF JEWISH LEARNING IS TO RESONATE FIRST FOR OURSELVES AND SECOND FOR SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS, THEN WE TOO OWE IT TO OURSELVES AND TO THE NEXT GENERATION, TO DISCOVER FRESH INSIGHTS IN NUANCED NARRATIVE OF JEWISH THOUGHT THAT WILL CONTINUE TO NOURISH THE JEWISH SOUL OF THE 21ST CENTURY.

SINCE I BEGAN MY DRASHAH WITH A FRESH INSIGHT ON THE THEME OF ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING,’ I CONCLUDE WITH A STORY CONCERNING A JEWISH ROWING TEAM FROM YESHIVA UNIVERSITY THAT MIRRORS THE SAME THEME, ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING’, AND AS YOU WILL HEAR, A NEW APPROACH TO ATTAINING VICTORY. THE STORY IS TOLD THAT ‘YESHIVA UNIVERSITY DECIDED TO FIELD A ROWING TEAM, BUT UNFORTUNATELY THEY LOST RACE AFTER RACE. EVEN THOUGH THEY PRACTICED AND PRACTICED FOR HOURS EACH DAY, THEY NEVER MANAGED TO COME IN ANY BETTER THAN DEAD LAST. FINALLY, THE TEAM DECIDED TO SEND MORRIS FISHBEIN, ITS CAPTAIN TO SPY ON HARVARD, THE PERENNIAL CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM. SO, MORRIS SCHLEPPS OFF TO CAMBRIDGE AND HIDES IN THE BUSHES NEXT TO THE CHARLES RIVER WHERE HE CAREFULLY WATCHES THE HARVARD TEAM AT ITS DAILY PRACTICE. AFTER ONE WEEK, MORRIS RETURNS TO YESHIVA UNIVERSITY. “WELL,” HE TELLS HIS TEAMMATES, “I FIGURED OUT THEIR SECRET.” “WHAT, TELL US,” HIS TEAMMATES SHOUTED. MORRIS ANSWERED: “WE SHOULD HAVE ONLY ONE GUY YELLING AND THE OTHER EIGHT SHOULD ROW.”

SO IT IS WITH GOD TODAY AND EVERYDAY. THERE IS ONLY ONE DIVINE POWER IN THIS UNIVERSE CALLING OUT TO US AND GUIDING US HOW TO LIVE OUR LIVES. YES. LIFE IS A MYSTERY. YET, IF WE ARE ATTUNED TO HEAR THAT INNER VOICE, HAYOM­TODAY, WE TOO CAN FOLLOW IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF COUNTLESS JEWISH MEN AND WOMEN WHO TOO WRESTLED WITH THEIR OWN FAITH AND MARKED THEIR OWN SPIRITUAL PATH. AND FOR MANY, WHO ADOPTED THE MOTTO ‘SEEING IS BELIEVING,’ THIS CONCEPT PROVIDED A VISION THAT STRENGTHENED THEIR ‘E​MUNAH­​THEIR FAITH IN GOD. “​LULEI HE­EMANTEE LIROTE B’TUV ADONAY B’ERETZ CHAYIM­­​I HAVE FAITH THAT I SHALL YET EXPERIENCE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD IN THE LAND OF LIVING.

KAVEI EL ADONAY, CHAZAK V’YAAMEITZ LEEBECHA V’KAVEI EL ADONAY­​TRUST IN THE LORD, BE STRONG, LET YOUR HEART TAKE COURAGE, PUT YOUR TRUST IN THE LORD.
Y’HEE RATZON MILFANECHA ADONAY ELOHEINU VEILOHEI AVOTEINU, SHET’CHADEISH ALEINU SHANA TOVAH U’MTUKAH­­​MAY IT BE YOUR WILL O’LORD OUR GOD AND GOD OF OUR ANCESTORS TO RENEW UNTO US A GOOD YEAR ­A YEAR FILLED WITH MUCH SWEETNESS.

AS I READ THIS STORY OF EMUNAH­­OF WHOLE­HEARTED TRUST IN GOD, I ASKED MYSELF­ HOW WOULD I REACT IN SUCH A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION? HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND TO THIS ETHICAL DILEMMA? SURELY AS A PARENT OR GRANDPARENT WE CAN EMPATHIZE WITH THE PAIN AND ANGUISH OF HAVING TO MAKE SUCH A CHOICE? AND FOR THAT REASON, HALACHA COMES TO SERVE AS A COGENT RESPONSE HOW TO CONFRONT SUCH MORAL QUANDARIES.

(PSALMS, 10:1) ONE ANSWER WE HAVE ALREADY EXPLORED: TO SACRIFICE ONE’S LIFE ‘AL KEDUSHAT HASHEM. TWO ADDITIONAL RESPONSES. THE FIRST­‘H​ESTER PANIM’­​­WHEN WE LOOK INTO THE HEAVENS ON A CLOUDY DAY, WE MAY NOT SEE THE SUN, EVEN THOUGH WE KNOW THAT IT’S ALWAYS THERE. LIKEWISE, EVEN THOUGH WE MAY NOT PERCEIVE GOD’S PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES, THIS DOES NOT NEGATE THE BELIEF THAT GOD WHO IS TRANSCENDENT, SPIRITUALLY DISTANT FROM THE WORLD, CHOOSES TO HIDE HIS PRESENCE. WHY WOULD GOD CONCEAL HIS PRESENCE FROM HUMANITY? FROM A ‘DIVINE ATTENTIVENESS AND CONCERN’[HESCHEL, THE PROPHETS, PAGE 483] GOD BEHAVES AS A LOVING PARENT WHO ALLOWS HIS CHILDREN TO MAKE CHOICES IN LIFE. SO TOO, GOD GRANTS FREE WILL TO HUMANITY TO CHOOSE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL.

A SECOND ANSWER: GOD ‘M​’RACHEFET­​GOD WHO IS IMMANENT, ‘HOVERS’ OVER HUMANITY AS ‘AN EAGLE HOVERS OVER ITS YOUNG.’ (RASHI­DEUTERONOMY 32: 11) AS RASHI EXPLAINS: JUST AN EAGLE ‘DOES NOT PRESS HEAVILY UPON ITS CHILDREN BUT HOVERS OVER THEM, TOUCHING THEM AND YET NOT TOUCHING THEM, SO TOO THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE…” RELATES SPIRITUALLY TO MANKIND.

IN BOTH RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVES, GOD GRANTS FREE WILL TO HUMANITY. IN CHOOSING TO CONCEAL HIS ESSENCE FROM HISTORY OR TO METAPHORICALLY HOVER OVER MANKIND, IN BOTH INSTANCES, GOD ALLOWS HUMANS TO EXERCISE THEIR FREEDOM [OF CHOICE], [AND THEREFORE] IF GOD EXALTS HUMAN FREEDOM, HE MUST TOLERATE EVIL, AND IF HE TOLERATES EVIL, PEOPLE WILL SUFFER. [CONSEQUENTLY], THE HOLOCAUST THEN REPRESENTS A HUMAN, NOT A DIVINE FAILURE.” YET, AS ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL WRITES: “GOD, WHO IS THE GOD OF PATHOS, “CRIES OVER THE SUFFERING OF HIS PEOPLE…GOD MAY NOT BE ABLE TO PREVENT SUFFERING, BUT HE CAN SHARE IN IT, AND IN THIS SHARING PROVIDE A MEASURE OF CONSOLATION AND STRENGTH TO A SUFFERING HUMANITY.”(NEIL GILLMAN, SACRED FRAGMENTS, P.208­9)

Like Us on Facebook!
Parents Tell Their Stories

We would like to share personal stories about how the affordability issue has affected families in our community. We will post these stories anonymously on our Facebook page and on our website.

We will not include any personal information such as names, schools, other institutions, or any other identifying information. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.

To share your story, either send us a message on our Facebook page or email us @ info @ gaje.ca.

%d bloggers like this: