Yesterday was the Sabbath, or as we call it here in Israel, Shabbat. According to Jewish tradition, the Sabbath is a day declared by G-d to be a day of rest. A day that all must rest from labor or work . Just as G-d rested “blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that he had done”(Genesis 2/3), we currently continue to hold this tradition, and rest as well. Orthodox Jews do not do any form of manual labor, drive cars, or cook on this special day. It is truly a day to go to synagogue, enjoy friends and family, and rest.
It is hard to imagine what it is like living in a war. As most readers know, we have been barraged by rocket fire from the Hamas terrorists throughout this ordeal. We have weathered countless Code Red sirens, as the rockets come very close to our homes, our schools, and our offices.
Cease fires are promised, and yet, Hamas continues its barrage of rocket fire. The IDF holds itself to its morals, and holds to the cease fire as long as it can. But, time is of the essence. And, as it says in Pirkei Avoth(Ethics of Our Fathers): ”If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”(Pirkei Avoth/Ethics of Our Fathers, 1:14), than who am I?“ Therefore, eventually it is determined that the IDF must respond and return fire.
Throughout this conflict, our lives move on. We go to work, we send our children to day camp, we go to the supermarket….we just live. Fear would paralyze us. And, we know that life must go on. Yet, on Shabbat (the Sabbath), we rest. We sit, we talk, we pray, we entertain, we laugh, we love, we give and we live.
In my small town, it was a quiet Shabbat. I know that other towns in the South were not as fortunate as us. Yet, I am sure that they also enjoyed the ability to try to enjoy the moments of tranquility between the chaos.
I know this past Shabbat I let myself laugh a little louder, eat a bit more, drink a bit of wine, and revel in the fact that we are a Jewish people of tradition that will not give up. We may enjoy the quiet of the Shabbat day, but we are never going to be silent in this war. We will continue the fight, and defend our right as a nation to defend itself to the end. The strata of the mountains of this country contains the very fabric of war battles that made us strong. From the times of the Greeks, the Romans, the Moors, the Byzantenes, the Ottomon Empire, and the British Empire, we have survived. Our Jewish nation is indestructible. It is time Hamas realizes it will be another layer of the strata of our Jewish history. For, we continue to live and love our quiet existence for eternity.
At the end of the Shabbat day, we have a ceremony called Havdala. It is one in which we separate that which is holy, the Sabbath, from that which is mundane, the regular day of the week. The prayer includes wine, for sanctity. It also includes spices, to wake the soul up from its sanctity, and remind it to return to the mundane. And, lastly, it includes a three-wicked candle. The candle represents the holy Jewish eternal flame. It reminds us that despite our return to the regular work week, we must remember that our small holy Jewish spirit will not die out, it will linger until the following Sabbath.
Havdalah last night was no exception. As the prayers were recited, I realized that I am going to take this flame, and continue to aim towards a greater good this week. I will not let the terrorists break my soul, or extinguish my fire. I will continue to burn, and fight to the bitter end. I will make sure to support my country, its soldiers, and my family through this war. I will not let the flame die. For, the Jewish people are like an eternal flame which will never be extinguished.