Sometimes life’s most complex and difficult answers are right in front of us in the simplest ways.
These “Ah ha” moments come most often when I’m with my own or my preschool children. The last couple days have been a blur of tears and horror as I watch interviews, listen to the news and feel sick to my stomach thinking about the terrible tragedy which occurred in the Poway Chabad House on the last day of Pesach and Shabbat. In the most vulnerable and holy of places, a white supremacist opened fire to house full of worshippers, killing Lori Gilbert Kaye and injuring two others.
The word Chabad is synonymous with Lubavitch; Lubavitch comes from the word Lubav; to love. Chabad represents love on all levels. We welcome all Jews and non-Jews regardless of affiliation, background, political party or observance. So for someone who represents the absolute antithesis of what Chabad stands for with a heinous plan to massacre a room full of congregants is just something I cannot wrap my head around.
It’s a new world that I find myself in 2019. A world which I am in constant state of anxiety and uncertainty for the well-being of my family and people. A world in which I go to sleep at night thinking about yet another tragedy I read on the news, a shooting, another swastika found on the wall, another university joining in an anti-Israel/Jewish event. What has our world come to?
When I went to school today and began our morning ritual of prayer with my 3 and 4 year old students, I was suddenly struck at the simplicity yet significance of the prayers we were singing. They all held so much of the answers to so many of the anxieties we live with.
We start with the Modeh Ani prayer-“I am grateful to You G-d for restoring my soul into my body once again this morning.”(Loose translation)
A simple sentence of gratitude to start my day with. To feel appreciative and thankful for all that I do have-the most important thing of all-my life. This quick meditation remedies so many difficulties that come up throughout our day.
The next song-“Let’s be friends and join together, let’s be friends now and forever, because that’s the Torah way.”
We put our arms around one another in love and unity. A diverse group of children expressing compassion and friendship to one another, even if they aren’t all friends. We treat each other with kindness and respect. The children even know to look out for the classmate that may not have an arm around them, and they jump at the opportunity to move from their place to be with them.
The children do not get into complicated debates of why it is OK to ignore, hate or ostracize one another because of religious or political beliefs. They definitely get upset at each other but the rule is simple-we still talk nicely and lovingly to our classmates (and they would rather choose happiness over being right)
The next song- “Hashem is here, Hashem is there, Hashem is truly everywhere.”
I can’t control everything. Perhaps many fears we face come from the feeling of lack of control that we have. And reflecting on the fundamental Jewish belief that Hashem is truly everywhere brings us to a place of faith, assurance and calm. We have to do our part but ultimately, He runs this universe. He is everywhere-even and especially when I am most alone.
What if we all woke up every morning with a little more gratitude, expressed our love to one another even if we didn’t see eye to eye on everything and knew in our hearts that G-d controls this world and has a magnificent masterpiece of a plan for every one of us?
It’s definitely time for me to consider and implement the most important traditions and beliefs that were part of our Jewish history from the beginning of time; that one thought, prayer, song or(small) action can change this world for the better.