Monthly Archives: July 2014

Torah, Existential Angst and the War (please spread)

Shalom WWP family,

There have been so many posts lately – news and especially opinion pieces.
Everyone has one. Everyone agrees with some and disagrees with others.

Someone wrote me hate mail the last couple of days. You see they are not Jewish and anti-Zionist and anti-American and anti-Fox news and wanted me to know that they are boycotting anything to do with Israel. I decided that this must be a socially-conscious human being and so opened the discussion – hoping to show them the error of their ways and the misguided-ness of their genuinely good character trait of compassion.

Not to be.

They hate Israel. Any force or action is justified in the face of being occupied. Ok I thought. This is the world. This is just the reality – just breathe. I walk around Jerusalem with a constant lump in my throat from the uncertainty of the situation – when it will end and we can go back to enjoying life and summer ‘vacation’. A pain in my heart from the knowing how many families are sitting shiva and are are also missing their Abas at their Shabbos tables weekly, either through ending their service or continuing it. And, most evidently, an existential anguish from knowing that there is no real solution here – I can’t convince anyone of true morality. I can’t even be sure that we are being moral – do the Israeli leaders get Torah psak on their every move and so know they are doing Hashem’s will at every moment? I don’t know if eliminating Hamas will lead to more problems, I don’t know if ending the war will lead to more deaths. I know nothing and it is not clear what is a win except for peace on earth and Mashiach…

Here we go again – that frustration and anguish over the “unfairness of life”. No different test than my husband tragically dying in a beautiful moment. We all know that nothing is fair according to what we think of fair. We get what we need spiritually – in order to overcome and achieve our spiritual potential. Same story, different station.

ISIS destroyed the prophet Yonah’s tomb the other day in Iraq. I thought it was strange, since they already did it by hand a week or two ago but they felt the need to drive the point home again by also bombing it to bits and then videotaping and posting it. It was a bit extreme. I decided perhaps Hashem wanted us to pay attention to it for a reason. So I popped open the book of Yonah – journey of the soul – based on the Vilna Gaon’s Kabbalistic teachings of the story of Yonah – as a parable of the soul’s journey in this world. According to the Gaon, the story is a metaphor for the soul who doesn’t want to come into the world, but is forced to do its job anyway.

The first two pages I read said the following:

A Jewish soul sits blissfully in the next world and does not want to go down. In the world in which it must be sent, it may be confused by the temptations of the body and pleasures that will make it lose its beautiful neshama essence. But, also, and more specifically pointed to my current struggles – it must face the test of challenges and of the antagonism of the nations. Built into this world in which a Jewish soul travels is the hate of the nations surrounding it. A Jewish soul is here to keep the mitzvos and bond with Hashem through it all the while enduring the challenges from within and from without – like a sailor navigating a ship against great waves trying to swallow it.

This sea -that is currently making me sea-sick by the way, is exactly the way it was designed in order for this soul, and your soul, to accomplish its purpose. Just ride the wave Batya, I say. Ride the wave – it is meant to be this way. You are fighting the stage – get back to your character and improve your mitzvot – it will make the reward only that much greater. No need to feel pain over the absurdity of world opinion and dislike – it is perfectly instrumented and purposeful to Hashem’s plan. You mind your business and Hashem will mind His business.

With love from the holy land and with immense prayers for victory and peace,
Batya

A word from above the bomb shelter

Shalom Western Wall Family,

I originally created this blog as a way to spread light from the holy land, and especially from the holiest place in the holy land to surrounding areas.
Then my husband’s tragedy occurred and that became the platform for the blog. But now, as day 5 of the war is in progress, I keep thinking I need to say something. After all, the blog is to apprise everyone of the situation. But as day after day happens, I keep wondering, ‘what am I going to say?’. I want to spread emuna and uplifting thoughts. But truly, the reality of our home is very different and very sobering. So I decided to spread reality – which is really emuna anyway.

3 days ago we heard our first sirens in Jerusalem – very unexpectedly. A rocket was coming. 3 kids were up and 2 were sleeping. In a flash, I had to make a judgment call whether I felt the threat was bad enough to wake up the 2 sleeping kids and whether to make the dash to find the bomb shelter keys and then to the bomb shelter. The only thing worse than having to take care of your kids and taking responsibility for them in this situation, is doing it without a husband to make you feel safe and confident and to take care of you when it is all over.

In the end we decided to huddle under the stairs, say tehillim and hug. That continued for more than an hour later until everyone packed blankets and mattresses around my bed and slept together. They were scared – terrified really.

Let me explain. 2 years ago we had 2 days of sirens during the last war. I told stories to my kids and we sang songs in the bomb shelters and made everything pink and pretty. Was pretty much a breeze as far as rocket scares go.
This year there is no more picture-painting of bubble-gum parties and picnic nights and everything’s going to be alright. Reality use to be never a care in the world or fear in the mind – Hashem would always protect and save – no problem. This year, the kids know better and the picture I paint has to be more real and mature – don’t worry kids, exactly what is supposed to happen will happen – and that’s always for the best. Does that mean no one is ever going to get hurt or die? Now they know that is not true – but it is also ok. My emuna lessons to them are different now. More reality-based.

As they asked question after question, we talked about whether we are doing the right thing. Are we doing our hishtadlus? Well, we are saying tehillim and it is probably turning those rockets away from packed areas. We are going to a safe place. That’s all we can ask for. If it is not our mazel to go now, then no rocket in the world can touch us, as long as we are not putting ourselves in danger’s way. And if it is our mazel to go, then there is nowhere we can run. When it’s time, it’s time. What is right will happen.

Now of course, they are kids – so I reminded them that they have 2 Abas now in Shemayim watching over them.

Someone said to me today ‘I wonder what Hashem is trying to tell us’. I found it kind of funny, because I feel like Hashem is very repetitive in many ways ‘just to do teshuva -that’s always what He’s saying’, I retorted. My kids and I decided to tell Hashem that our hishtadlus now will be to try to be better in our ‘Ve’ahavta Le’Orecha Kamocha’.

The army responds with fighting, the politicians respond with decisions and discussions. If we are neither, then we obviously respond with something else. I find it pointless to discuss how we think the war or the country should be run. Is anyone actually listening to us when we say this? If I am not Netanyahu, so who cares what I think? Why waste energy speaking about what I think will solve the situation militarily or politically. If I want to do something, then I reserve myself to an area where I actually have control. Hashem listens to my teshuva, to my tefila (prayers) and to my improved actions. He also listens to yours and responds in kind. Where we have control and influence – we should act. Where we don’t – we are not actually doing anything.

Almost 600 rockets have been launched – unprecedented not to have a casualty in such a situation. Thank you Hashem!
Even one of the Hamas leaders, after being asked how it could be that he hasn’t been able to kill an Israeli yet, said ‘What can I do if Allah makes miracles for them? But the minute Allah gets angry with them, wait and see what will happen!”. Thanks for the reminder Hamas – we will make sure to continue to make Hashem proud while you pound us.

Please take a moment and pick one extra thing to do to merit Hashem’s protection – after all, this ridiculous war is just for our spiritual growth anyway! Not just for us under fire, but for everyone at home as well!

Just a note – remember the 2nd antifada? Dozens of bus bombings never-ending. Letter-writing campaigns, protests, angry Presidents – nothing worked to stop it. Then the #2 bus from the Kotel blew up. We all heard it. The Rabbis got together and realized that there must be something spiritually dangerous about buses that causes them to be so vulnerable to attacks. They decided to make kosher buses – segregating men and women. Guess what happened? No more bus bombings.
I feel the antifada mentality back amongst the Arabs on the street. The unrest is brewing. That makes me more concerned than any rockets. Thoughts?

With love from Jerusalem,

Batya