Friday, May 17, 2024

Pay Attention to the Dew

It's incredible how much the world can change in a few weeks, let alone a few months. As if October 7th wasn't enough for us to feel surrounded by enemies within our homeland, now, within weeks, as the college campus demonstrations spread like wildfire and even public high schools are allowed "Nakba" days in their halls, many of us feel surrounded by enemies even here in America. Despair and depression, given the current moment, are becoming rampant, made worse by the role America, which formerly seemed like our unconditional friend and ally, is now showing some cracks in the armor. I would like to suggest that while the world around us is not in our control, our internal world remains our domain. It is up to us to recognize the opportunity within our minds and hearts during these terrible times. Being subject to world hatred is not new to us. It is not out of the blue. And yet, because of this, we have a roadmap to help us navigate this complex landscape. Already in the Torah, within the tochacha ("rebuke") that we read in the Torah shortly before Shavuot, we have a deep contrast between the harshness of Hashem's rebuke and a statement of our eternal destiny. Although G-d paints us a picture of what will happen at our worst, He also commits to keeping us always at our best: to be bonded forever with Hashem, with a promise that He will never sever this bond. At the heart of our faith lies a profound divine commitment. It's an unbreakable promise of our eternity, a pledge that no matter how dire the circumstances, no force can succeed in our destruction. This commitment not only assures our eternal bond with Hashem but also presents us with an opportunity for introspection and strengthening of our faith during these challenging times. In the Book of Hoshea (14:4-6), we are told of the following prophecy: Assyria shall not save us, No more will we ride on steeds; Nor ever again will we call Our handiwork our god, Since in You alone orphans find pity!" I will be to Israel like dew; He shall blossom like the lily, He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree. We are reminded by these words that the nations of the world will not be there to save us with their great might (as represented by Assyria). Instead, it will be G-d who will heal us and take us back. How? Interestingly enough, not with imagery of strong horses and swift action. Instead, G-d is likened in this text to dew. The thing about dew is that people don't even realize it is there. It is such a light mist that people may not notice it at first. It is not giant torrents of water or loud cacophonies of rain like thunderstorms. Instead, dew is the gentlest manifestation of water, such that it might rest in tiny beads on your windshield in the morning or cling to your flower petals. And G-d tells us I will be this presence in your life. Even when you don't realize I am there, I am there clinging to you. At the end of the tractate of Sotah, the Mishna states, "We have no one to rely on other than our Father in Heaven." What this means is, that we know who is running the show, and that we should stop caring about the fickleness of the world's nations because they were never there for us to rely on in the first place. There is a difference between man and the Divine. Man is subject to changes in mood akin to the weather- emotions blow in and opinions blow out, and unfortunately, when you are dealing with flesh and blood, so do commitments. With Hashem, this is not so. We can rely on Him, we can believe in His power, and we can recommit our hearts to serving Him and trusting in Him and Him alone. Instead of succumbing to despair, let us view this as a chance to reaffirm our connection to our destiny, our fellow Jews, and our beloved Land of Israel. Our earliest history, as chronicled in our supreme guidebook, the Torah, foretold that the end of days wouldn’t be easy. We were destined to be a nation that dwells alone, yet in this aloneness, we are not truly alone. Stay strong and cultivate your inner world, your garden of faith, your love of your fellow Jew, and the land of our ancestors. Everything else is just noise. Have a Peaceful Shabbos, Rabbi Yaakov Fisch

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