Yaakov Fisch

Pay Attention to the Dew

It’s incredible how much the world can change in a few weeks, let alone a few months. As if October 7th wasn’t enough for us to feel surrounded by enemies within our homeland, now, within weeks, as the college campus demonstrations spread like wildfire and even public high schools are allowed “Nakba” days in their halls, many of us feel surrounded by enemies even here in America. Despair and depression, given the current moment, are becoming rampant, made worse by the role America, which formerly seemed like our unconditional friend and ally, is now showing some cracks in the armor. 

I would like to suggest that while the world around us is not in our control, our internal world remains our domain. It is up to us to recognize the opportunity within our minds and hearts during these terrible times. Being subject to world hatred is not new to us. It is not out of the blue. And yet, because of this, we have a roadmap to help us navigate this complex landscape. 

Already in the Torah, within the extraordinary passage known as the tochacha (“rebuke”) that we read in the weekly portion shortly before Shavuot, we have a deep contrast between the harshness of the Al-Mighty’s rebuke and a statement of our eternal destiny. Although G-d paints a picture of what will happen at our worst, he also commits to keeping us always at our best: to be bonded forever with Hashem, with a promise that He will never sever this bond.

This level of divine commitment means that we have an ironclad promise of our eternity. No matter how bad things get, no matter who is bent on our destruction, they just won’t succeed. Even more so, during this challenging time, this message also gives us an opportunity to reflect on our faith. 

In the Book of Hosea (14:4-6), we are told of the following prophecy:

Assyria shall not save us,

No more will we ride on steeds;

Nor ever again will we call

Our handiwork our god,

Since in You alone orphans find pity!”

I will heal their affliction,

Generously will I take them back in love;

For My anger has turned away from them.

I will be to Israel like dew;

He shall blossom like the lily,

He shall strike root like a Lebanon tree.

These words remind us that the nations of the world will not be there to save us with their great might (as represented by Assyria). Instead, it will be G-d who will heal us and take us back. How? Interestingly enough, not with imagery of strong horses and swift action- Instead, G-d is likened in this text to dew. The thing about dew is that people don’t even realize it is there. It is such a light mist that people might not necessarily notice it at first. It is not giant torrents of water or loud cacophonies of rain like thunderstorms. Instead, dew is the gentlest manifestation of water, such that it might rest in tiny beads on your windshield in the morning or cling to your flower petals. And G-d tells us I will be this presence in your life.  Even when you don’t realize I am there, I am there clinging to you. 

At the end of the tractate of Sotah, the Mishna states, in complex times we will come to the conclusion “we have no one to rely on other than our Father in Heaven.” What this means is that we know who is running the show and that we should stop caring about the fickleness of the world’s nations because they were never there for us to rely on in the first place. There is a difference between man and the Divine. Man is subject to changes in mood akin to the weather- emotions blow in, and opinions blow out, and unfortunately, when dealing with flesh and blood, so do commitments. With the Al-Mighty, this is not so. We can rely on Him, believe in His power, and recommit our hearts to serving Him and trusting in Him and Him alone.

Therefore, instead of falling into despair, I see this as an opportunity to reconnect with our destiny, our fellow Jews, and our connection to the Land of Israel. To remember, in our earliest history, through our supreme guidebook (the Torah) that we were already told that at the end of days things wouldn’t be easy, that we would be a nation that dwells alone, and yet in all this aloneness we are not truly alone. We have the eternal promise of the Al-Mighty, we have each other, and we have a beautiful land that we are told G-d is watching every second (Deuteronomy 11:12).

Stay strong and cultivate your inner world, your garden of faith, your love of your fellow Jew, and the land of our forefathers. Everything else is just noise.

About the Author
Rabbi Yaakov Fisch is the Senior Rabbi at Etz Chaim of Jacksonville, Florida. In his tenure of over 20 years, he has focused on building bridges to the wider community through his projects such as founding an outreach kollel, forming the first kashus organization in the area and hosting a podcast where he sends out Torah messages geared to all.
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