William Hamilton

Chins up

How can we keep our chins up? With so much scorn criss-crossing our online feeds? One way we can, is by drawing strength from others who can.

Tal is 21. She was among the 7 IDF Tank Soldiers who, on the morning of October 7th, fought heroically to save countless lives. She’s part of a Tiktok generation that most Israelis didn’t have high opinions of. That is, before they stepped up. Now, they’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel’s greatest founding generation. 

What did they find in themselves? I’m not sure they know. But deep down, in their People’s DNA, there is a quality. A posture. It’s only named once in the Bible. 

That posture makes its one and only appearance in this week’s portion of Torah. It goes by the word, komemiut (Lev. 26:13). It means to stand tall, with your chin up. It implies humility. Even more, Jewish integrity. 

For each of us, it points to three lessons. They’ve never been more important than they are right now. First, be a counter voice. Of course, that’s always been our thing. Going with the grain of our strengths has always meant going against the grain of the trendy. Second, don’t be captive to victimhood. Self-pity is like quicksand. Lastly, it means to be free. That is, free to live firmly with purpose. Proximate to our People’s vocation. Yes, this can be knotty. But it’s forever noble.  

“The struggle can be painful” concludes Noah Feldman who will be our guest tomorrow. “Yet, with a loving embrace, it should also be joyful, productive, beautiful, and transcendent.” 

May we dig deep within ourselves in the coming weeks to tap that blessed posture that enables us to keep our chins up.

About the Author
Rabbi William Hamilton has served as rabbi (mara d'atra) of Kehillath Israel in Brookline, MA since 1995.
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