Ahhh Rosh Chodesh.
I embrace her arrival every month cherishing the possibility and promise of change. Especially this month. Images, stories and the heaviness of Yom HaShoah still weighed heavily on me as Iyar crept up from behind challenging my desired optimism.
Determined, I made room in my heart for gladness as I sang Hallel, letting the familiar words and tunes sooth my soul as I praised G-d. I felt uplifted and hopeful. Then, as the second day of Rosh Chodesh proceeded, at about roughly the same time I discovered two devastating events had occurred.
I took a double take at my computer, for my brain protested with a ten second delay of denial, before I was able to process the words that Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein had passed away. We lost a tremendous leader. Countless people will mourn and the void that is left is indescribable. Now that a great light is gone from our midst I fear our eyes will adjust to the darkness that surrounds us. It is past noon and there is no joyous song left to sing. G-d, The True Judge, decided to return this luminous light to where it is more fitting, closer to the Source. I have no doubt his soul has risen to the greatest heights.
This loss is one that no man had any control over. A reality we must accept, unlike the second tragedy which occurred today at the Kotel. I read how WoW, Woman of the Wall, engaged today in civil disobedience. They are prohibited from reading from Torah scrolls in the women’s section of the kotel plaza, yet had a Torah scroll handed to them by a man after his group had finished using it so that they too could read from it. After a short while some men, who did not approve, noticed what was going on and a fight ensued. Jew against Jew. A man in tefillin pushing and standing on one of his own was harder for me to stomach than the picture still fresh in mind of a Jew at the foot of our enemy.
And so again I found myself in disbelief, staring at my computer.
I felt the darkness getting thicker and more palpable, but for this one we have only ourselves to blame.
We can’t afford to hate each other. We are small nation and have few supporters. If we don’t hold each other up we will surely suffer devastating consequences. We know all too well what hate can lead to. Is one Yom HaShoah not enough? If we didn’t learn from that what will it take?
A tremendous light was taken from us today. We can’t afford to distinguish what’s left.