Mark Twain is said to have commented that a people who still mourn a loss that took place thousands of years ago, is a people whose vision will one day be fulfilled.
In the meantime, Hashem’s plan for us to live in a world defined by peace and goodness is not what we see actualized when we look around us. The chaos ranges; Palestinian frenzied and homicidal response to the installation of metal detectors at the entrance to the Temple Mount is one example. They expect us to respond to the fact that they Al Aqsa it as a cache for weapons used in a double murder as though nothing happened. The chaos continued when on the following Friday night they entered a stranger’s home turning a shalom zachor into a bloodbath.
This morning, Rosh Chodesh Av, Leah Aharoni (the woman who, a couple of years ago had called on the SEM girls to come en masse to the Kotel to express our deep connection to the holiest place in the world) had asked those of us who could make it to come again. The purpose was to have a respectful and serious prayer, one that would break through the disunity that threatens to destroy us, and return the basic respect to the Kotel as a place of tradition and worship. It didn’t turn out that way. More chaos. The Women of The Wall, comfortable as always as the Rosa Parks of the 21st century, bringing enlighten and tolerance to the savages by singing songs of peace and unity as they do everything possible to disrupt the peace and unity that the Kotel has on the 29 days of the month that they are not there. They were met by tens of young girls who covered their faces with thin scarves to disguise the whistles that they used to disrupt the WOW service. The two sets of Holy Warriors turned the Kotel plaza into anything but the respectful tefillah that may have changed darkness to light. Wherever you look you see darkness, and feel the pain of futility. The easy out is to content yourself with pointing your finger at the Bad Guys. The problem is that accusing the people who perpetrate further and further descent into spiritual oblivion doesn’t change anything. In fact, it is a distraction from what is real.
What is real is the fact that the only genuine answer to destruction is building, and the only genuine answer to ignorance is learning and teaching, and the only genuine response to hatred is love. There is a real and significant difference between love and acceptance of darkness as an alternative reality. This divide is what separates eternity from oblivion. When you ask yourself who you like and admire, invariably you will end up choosing people in whom you see beauty beyond the range of their status and their possessions. You see their kindness, loyalty, sensitivity, brilliance. This is just another way of saying that you see their souls, not their bodies or their possessions. What you really like is Hashem’s presence within them.
When you were born, you couldn’t see that far. The people you loved when you were three earned their love by loving you. Today, you can see further. You can see what is inherently good and worthy in them, and the more acutely you see what is good and worthy in you, the easier it is to love them. When you don’t the subconscious need to compete can easily get in your way. If they are number one, that makes me number two, and who wants to come in second?
If you learn to ask new questions, how can I build? When one side tosses the only Plan we have aside, you have to look beyond the tragedy of the consequences that they bring about. We are all stuck with our pettiness, and our relentless attraction to status and ownership. We are also stuck with our basic insecurities. How do you move on? The first step is to move beyond your ego and learn to see Hashem’s plan as the only one that transcends self. You have to let it touch you and define your choices.
One way is to move from the inside out. The other is moving from the outside in, which is far easier as a start. What I am suggesting is Fake it Till You Make It.
Did you feel the moments of horror and pain that afflicted the family that was massacred Friday night? Send them a letter. The name and address is Solomon Family, Rechov Rashi 23, Elad. If that’s not your style, say a perek of Tehillim.
This doesn’t just apply to your relationship with victims of tragedy. If you don’t like your (fill in the blank) in-laws, the shadchan who introduces you to people you would never want to know, your neighbor who thinks that he lives in the desert, etc. Fake It. Force your eye to see what is inside. Say “Hi-what’s up”.
During the time that the Bais HaMikdash existed, the sacrifices had the effect of letting the “animal self” the self that is as separate from any other person as any animal’s ”self” is from any other animal. They have no sense of companionship because there is no bond between them beyond the preservation of their species. When you discover the beast within you, you can then use its energies to make the bond between you and other people stronger...
The news isn’t all bad!
Tuesday night thousands of women focused on self-change. Not be making contact with the animal self, but by making contact with the most human aspect of who we are. Nothing reveals your true self more than the way you communicate. Thousands of Jerusalem’s women got together in binyanei umah, Yerushalaim’s largest convention hall for an evening dedicating to learning how to change your communication from something base to something holy. Next week’s letter will give you a rundown of the evening.
In the meantime just focus on how much chaos melt away if everyone who came to listen, actually keep what they hear.