I’m going to Eretz Yisrael tonight. And I go with some trepidation. And not because I am fearful of being stabbed, nor fearful of being run over by a car, nor fearful of being butchered by savage beasts. My trepidation lies in whether or not I am worthy of and up to the task at hand.
During davening today at my daughter’s high school an announcement was made about the bloody rampage in Har Nof last night. Four rabbis brutally murdered for being Jews. The arrival of this news at this time would have made it very easy for me to feel terrified. I continued davening to the best of my ability but struggled mightily with emotions that ran the gamut from shock, sadness, anger and then sheer frustration. Needless to say, instead of using the power of tefillah to connect with and beseech HKBH, I simply couldn’t gather my emotions together quickly enough to compartmentalize them.
What eventually made me feel so angry and then frustrated was the sense that as an American Jew who considers herself a Religious Zionist, who spends more of her time dedicated to insuring that Israel remains a priority in how her kids are educated Jewishly, and devises and revises her own aliyah plans on a regular basis, and hopefully will successfully push her 5 kids to either lead her there or follow her- the news that Jews were once again prematurely ripped from their families’ became a teaching moment for proper tefilah, created another opportunity to bring Israel to our tefilot and harshly highlights the reality that I am simply an American Jew going to visit Eretz Yisrael tonight.
Now if it were all too easy for me to become terrified then one would have to agree it would be all that much easier for those living in Eretz Yisrael to feel petrified, paralyzed and helpless. But that is not the case. Israel is not Poland in 1940. As my friend from Modiin posted today on Facebook, “this is not the Shoah.” Israel is strong. Israel makes decisions everyday from a place of strength, not weakness. Israel is a bountiful blessed country that is both miraculous and a marvel. And its people, well there are no people like Israel. I have seen my friends reach the bottom while yearning and begging HKBH to “bring back our boys” but with my own eyes witness women like Sherri Mandell wipe the tears of Rachaeli Frenkel so she can get up, brush off her skirt and get back to the business of strengthening and inspiring her people to keep moving. This is Am Yisrael B’eretz Yisrael.
But I am just an American Jew who leaves for Israel tonight with trepidation. I ask myself can I get the job done? Will I be afraid to visit all 5 midrashot my daughter wants to see regardless of their location? Will I doubt in its safety? In its security? Will I be able to get the job done? The task is daunting because the way I see it my job is to make sure Israel stays strong. Israel needs to look in my eyes and draw strength, it needs to know that this American Jew visiting Israel understands its complexities, respects the decisions it makes daily in the context of the most painful distractions imaginable. Israel is not a victim. Israel is my hero.
Don’t you see? I need Israel to be strong so I can once again lend Israel my most precious possession, my sweet baby number 4 so that, like her siblings before her, she can spend a year learning its Torah, breathe its air and drink its Kool-Aid. But more than that, I need Israel to remain strong because I don’t want to be just an American Jew going to visit Israel for much longer. B’ezrat Hashem, today at Mincha I will daven to HKBH for the strength to get the job done.