A Humbling Generation

We are living through challenging times. The outbreak of Covid, the loss of so many loved ones, war in Israel, the rise of anti-Semitism, political strife, and the list goes on. We are continuously struggling with yet another challenge and another challenge. Naturally we become anxious and concerned, and we feel unsure where the future lies.

Personally, I recently found comfort and strength when I learnt a fascinating insight. The Midrash teaches that Moses had the privilege of reading from a book called ‘The Book of Adam’, written by the first man of the universe. In this book it records the stories of all generations throughout history. In particular, Moses saw a generation in the future that will go through ongoing challenges, but yet the people will strengthen themselves with strong belief and faith in G-d. This specific generation will not be compared to the generation of Moses, in terms of spiritual service of G-d, but nevertheless the people will be totally dedicated and devoted to serving G-d with their minds and hearts. Leading rabbis have taught that the Midrash was referring to our generation. This generation completely humbled Moses, as the Torah describes. He felt that this generation was far greater than his, thus he was truly humble.

Times like these are extremely disheartening. However, it is specifically during such times that we are forced to dig deep and to reveal a depth within us that is ordinarily concealed. Our Neshomo shines strongest during these times, and this is what brought Moses to his great level of humility. We have all dug deep as individuals, as well as a community. Our faith in G-d has carried us along and enabled us to deal with whatever we are experiencing. Let us not think that we are inferior to Moses and to his generation; on the contrary, Moses was in awe of our generation and our perseverance.

Israel will be holding its Presidential elections early next month. Earlier this month Miriam Peretz, a well-known Israeli educator and public speaker, announced that she will be running for office. Miriam is known in Israel for being a mother who has lost two sons in battle while defending the land of Israel. However, it is not the loss of her two sons that has empowered her to become a presidential candidate, but rather the way she has responded to these tragedies.

“When the heart is full of faith it can withstand difficult challenges, it can create great creations. This is my creation… I turned my sorrow into a new melody,” Miriam said in her acceptance speech of the illustrious Israel Prize in 2018.

We are currently living through complicated times – in our beloved Israel and around the world. However, as Viktor Frankl writes, “between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” We must use this opportunity to dig deep, to grow, and to reveal our true inner selves that will carry us forward for many years to come.

This past Shabbos we read about the Kohanim kindling the lights of the Menorah that would ultimately spread light to the whole world. Today this job is not for the Kohanim alone, but each one of us has our own light, the light of our soul, that we can ignite with faith, positivity and hope. Lighting our personal light will help shine light to the world around us, and please G-d bring about a time of peace, health and prosperity, for the Jewish people and all of mankind.

About the Author
Rabbi Yehuda Stern lives in Johannesburg South Africa, with his wife Estee and their 6 children. He is the Rabbi of the Sydenham Shul, and director of Young Jewish Joburg which caters to Jewish students and young professionals. Rabbi Stern is a passionate teacher who enjoys sharing the Jewish perspective on modern and contemporary issues.
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