I will never get the image out of my mind. My father, 75 years old in his precious store that just burnt down, running in and out with the smoke still searing. The firefighters were just finishing, and he was grabbing remnants of leather coats he could salvage. My mother helping him and at the same time saying, “Nat stop.” I was yelling “daddy stop please.” My father a holocaust survivor who with Mom started the Quality Leather Shop on Ave. U when he was 68. He was not properly insured and he felt he could save some of the coats. He was a master tailor, so he did. It was only a few, after he rented space above the butcher and fixed a sewing machine.
Did he have to do all that? Not really, he probably grossed less than $2000.00. What was he doing running through the smoke, plucking so little out of the ashes? He saw it as their life.
Wally Amos of Famous Amos cookies shared some of his Torah with me during an interview…”Whenever you go through struggles, take pictures in your mind so you can go back remember and learn from them.” So relevant as we mesh our current trials with what we will recreate of the scenes of struggles from bondage to freedom – to the birth of a new day, a new nation.
The Haggadah tells us- “G-d brought us out of Egypt…with signs and wonders.” G-d knew something about us that he would “pluck a brand from the fire” Zecharria 3:1-2. Our people also took something with them. With all the misery and existing at the lowest levels, they had signs and wonder they would build the life of a people on.
In the Breslov Haggadah, Rav Nachman who focuses on a theme of awareness throughout, shares a Mashul here – abbreviated – He tells of man whose home was ravaged by fire. Everything destroyed, burnt to the ground. With tears streaming down his cheeks, he rummaged through his home looking for scraps, pieces of wood, anything that he could use for starting a new life. Reb Noson passed by with some followers. Reb Noson never missed an opportunity to see G-d’s ways. He said “ Do you see?! The man’s life is in ruins. His home, his assets, his life as he knew it, they are no more. He does not give up in despair. No! He is too busy thinking of the future, gathering what he can from the past.”
With signs and wonder -.Rabbi A.J. Heschel tells us –“Wonder is the prerequisite for authentic awareness and awe. Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.”
We have pictures of the signs and wonder arising from the today’s plague we are experiencing from; the medical angels, those assisting and feeding the needy to the ever circulating stories and Torah we receive hourly on WhatsApp. We have been given precious time to think and gather, to pluck a brand from the fire, to have the knowledge that we will be ok, we will be smarter, more aware and move onto the new freedom coming.
On Shabbos HaGadol in the Haftorah, Malachi visions our emergence from struggle..”and ye will go forth like a gambol as calves out of the stall.” This refers to calves excited, jumping to leave their enclosed places.
Allow the signs and wonder to provide the awareness and knowledge that there can be meaning to all our challenges and emergence to a new appreciation of the little things in our lives. Take the pictures so that we can share them “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
Shabbat Shalom and have a Pesach Sameach!