At the beginning of this week’s parsha, Yaacov prepares for an encounter with his brother Eisav whom had previously set out to kill him. As the first step in his preparations Yaacov sends messengers to recap to his brother what he has been up to since they last saw each other. One of the things Yaacov tells the messengers to tell Eisav is that he had lived in the house of Lavan for the last few years (Bereisheit 32:5). Rashi comments on this verse noting the fact that not only did Yaacov live with Lavan but “ The 613 mitzvot he kept.” In other words Yaacov stayed true to the ways of Hashem and his Torah throughout the time he spent in the house of Lavan.Yaacov remained true to the ways of Hashem despite the hardships that he faced both while living with Lavan, in other words all the times Lavan cheats him while there.
The Jewish people’s current situation in the land of Israel is not the easiest. Over the past few weeks, the ongoing series of attacks which seemed to have calmed down have seemed to unfortunately worsen. However, like Yaacov Avinu we continue to “ Keep the 613 Mitzvot” and strengthen our connection to God and his Torah.
There are many ways which are people have done this. Here however, are some examples I saw just yesterday. Yesterday I attended a wedding of a friend showing our commitment to rebuild our people despite the tragedies we have gone through. Later that night I attended the post wedding festivities which the entire country and for that matter the entire Jewish people were invited in celebration of the wedding of Ariel and Sarah Beigel Wedding at Binyanei Haeumah. For those who do not know Sarah Beigel, the bride at this wedding’s, father and brother were tragically murdered on the way to celebrate the Ufruf of their son-inlaw a few weeks ago. However, despite all of this they still were able to celebrate their wedding and use it as an opportunity to unite the Jewish people amongst the current waves of terror and the loss of their loved ones.
I arrived at the wedding, following the previous wedding I was at, at around 11:10 pm Israel time. The hall where the wedding was however, was packed to capacity and I was not able to get in. To my dismay, with the exception of some Breslov Chasidim, it looked like not as much dancing was going on outside of the hall. Suddenly however, I noticed a large crowd of American Yeshiva students dancing. I soon realized this was not just any group of American Yeshiva students but students and Rebbeim from Yeshivat Ashreinu, the Yeshiva which 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz H’’YD had been a student before he was murdered by terrorists last week in Gush Etzion. Together we sang the song “Ashreinu Ma Tov Chalkeinu” praiseworthy how great is our lot (i.e. how happy are we that we are part of the Jewish people that has a special relationship with our creator). I was in awe over how these students and Rebbeim could still feel a strong connection to God despite the terrible loss of their friend and student.
Earlier that night, many of the post-highschool American Yeshivot and Seminaries also gathered together for a memorial service and Kumtzitz (slow singing) in memory of Ezra Schwartz. While I was not there, a friend of mine posted on Facebook a moment which I felt was one of the major highlights of this event. The highlight was a speech given by the head of the Yeshiva which Ezra attended, Rabbi Gotch Yudin. As part of the speech Rabbi Gotch spoke about how the Yeshiva was aiming to finish all of Tanach (i.e. all of the bible the five books of the Torah, Prophets and Writings) which Ezra had wanted to try and accomplish while in yeshiva over the course of this year.
Like Yaacov Avinu we continue to, despite the tough times we may currently face, still “ Keep the Mitzvot” and even more so use it to strengthen our commitment to Hashem.
May we know, no more tragedies and may Moschiach come soon.
Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom, Gut Shabbes- Gidon Herschander 16 Kislev,5776 Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh