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A Vigil of Fear and a Vigil of Hope

05/12/2021 08:23:25 AM


Rabbi Rudin

Emergency Message for Shavuot from Rabbi Rudin

Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day, 5781; the anniversary of the day when after two millennia the City of Jerusalem, the national home and focus of longing for the Jewish people became ours again, is turned into a day of violence and fear.

Not an enthusiastic gardener, I was fulfilling a belated Mother’s Day promise to plant some bushes in the back yard a few hours ago when my daughter in Tel Aviv texted.

Abba, I’m in the bomb shelter of my building.  Horrible explosions overhead.  Hamas is firing hundreds of missiles at us.  I’m scared.

So much for gardening or for anything else except for saying psalms and worrying.

Later, her boyfriend and, G-d willing, perhaps my future son-in-law Guy sent a video clip showing the missiles striking houses and cars while the Iron Dome system tries to hold off the deadly barrage.

 View the clip here.

There, in the skies of the Land of Israel is as clear a horizon between good and evil as there exists in the world.  Let’s be clear.  This isn’t about a neighborhood in Jerusalem where the Jews were ethnically cleansed in 1948 and reclaimed their land in 1967 and have disputed it with the Arabs who settled there under the Jordanian occupation.  This isn’t about the Arab riots and stones thrown at the Al Aqsa mosque or about the extremist Jewish factions shouting racist slogans -- disgraceful behavior that cannot be tolerated though it be.

It is about Israel, the one Jewish country in the world, being once again in the crosshairs of Hamas terrorists who would rather put their entire community and the region at risk of more bloodshed than live in peace with Israel.  

Shavuot is the day when the Jewish people heard G-d’s voice at Sinai and accepted upon themselves to be G-d’s witnesses on earth and to strive to embody compassion and justice through the Torah as an example to humanity.

We were told then, as the Torah descended in fire and darkness, that the choice to be Israel was fraught with danger.  We have been called the canary in the coal mine, for wherever hate and extremism try to take root, we are its first targets.  Just last week, Iran’s leader called once again for the destruction of Israel.  And Iran’s proxies are quick to respond with more violence.  

What can we do?  Beyond supporting Israel’s right to defend itself, beyond condemning violence and extremism no matter from whom, beyond refusing to give in to hate or simplistic characterizations of any group, I believe that our calling is to relive our stand at Sinai with every fiber of our being.  

Whether you believe that that summit between G-d and humanity happened as an historic fact (as I do) or as a metaphor, we have been given the great privilege to strive to point the way to love, compassion, hope, faith and refusal to give in to fear, even in this hour of trial.  Even as I continue to get texts from Shimrit in the bomb shelter, all I can think of is that quote from Isaiah:

Olam chesed yibaneh -- The world can only be built from love.

This night has been a vigil of fear as the missiles continue to rain down.

On Sunday night, erev Shavuot, the Jewish world holds a different kind of vigil. A vigil of hope, of renewed commitment to Torah, to our bonds to each other, to our heritage, to G-d, to Israel and to the stubborn spark of hope that lit our way through two thousand years of exile, through the smoke and darkness of the Holocaust and will not fail us as long as we keep it burning in our hearts.  

Please say a Psalm for Israel, for peace and for the well-being especially of all of the children of all faiths, ethnicities and homes of this troubled, tortured region. Please express support for Israel and urge our leaders in Congress to support a call for an immediate end to Hamas’ missile attacks as well as an immediate resumption of direct and unconditional talks between Israel and her neighbors.   Donate to United Hatzalah, emergency services in Israel serving all communities.  And join us on Shavuot to live the dream.  May the One who brings peace to the heavenly realms where galaxies wheel and cosmic forces interact in awesome harmony that makes reality possible bring peace to us, to all of Israel, to all of humanity.  Amen.

Thu, June 20 2024 14 Sivan 5784