Headline: Four men walk into shul and put on their tallis and tefillin. They begin their day talking to their Maker and are mowed down by terrorists. A policeman, who was nearby, rushed to the scene. He succeeded in neutralizing the terrorist but later he succumbed to his injuries.
The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot ( 2:10) brings down the idea from Rabbi Eliezer ‘ Repent one day before you die’
The Talmud ( Shabbat Daf 153 a) comments: His ( Rabbi Eliezer’s) students asked him ‘ But does a person know which day he will die?”
R’ Eliezer responded: ‘Let a person always say to himself that he must repent today because he may die tomorrow. This way all his days will be lived with Teshuva (repentence).
Living in Israel, this source is a concept that we can certainly relate to.
This last horrific spate of piguim including the terror attack in Har Nof yesterday brings this idea to the forefront of my mind.
As an oleh who has lived in Israel for close to 30 years, I can not count the times I have heard of innocent people being killed by our enemy. Each time, it is as if it is was the first; the shock, the pain, OH the pain- and the realization that another precious life has been snuffed out.
How can we as a nation continue to be strong in the face of such adversity?
We see TODAY as if it is our last. From the time we wake up in the morning until we retire we must appreciate the brachot ( blessings ) that G-d has bestowed upon us. Recognize the beauty that surrounds us in our country, our appreciation for our wonderful family, friends and the special people who dwell in our midst. We begin by thanking the bus driver for his service and the cashier for her help. We are encouraged by reading stories about extraordinary people such as Rav Yehuda Glick, may Hashem grant him a refuah shlema ( a speedy and complete recovery) who in addition to his holy work has adopted and fosters many children together with his special wife. Or, Mr. Joseph Gitler, founder of Leket Israel, who saw the need to prevent food spoilage and today this organization is the largest food bank in Israel.
If you want to hear about Giborei Yisrael ( heroes of Israel) one doesn’t have to travel far. In every corner of this small country, someone is working on behalf of our people. We are a nation of givers and, with our strong bond to our historical roots, in just over 65 years, we have created a state filled with millions of Jews coming from every place on Earth. We have built Torah institutions that outnumber any in history, are one of the centers of the Hi Tech industry and our grass roots organizations and Chesed institutions could fill an entire phone book.
As Israelis, we have been given a gift of the renewal of life on a daily basis while appreciating how precarious it can be. By using our time to improve ourselves, we in turn make this country greater. G-d has given us this special sense of awareness of the fragility of life so that we can appreciate each and every minute we live it.
When I made aliyah, one of the first things I noticed was roses blooming in the middle of the winter. I still remember the sight of seeing those big red buds on Rechov Hertzl in Yerushalayim. Today, the Bridge of Strings stands on what then a a small garden (“ progress…”).
Roses represent beauty, rebirth and new beginnings. The thorns are painful, a reflection of our lives here in Israel, with its wars and enemies who are ready to attack at any moment.
But we have to remember, without the thorns, there would be no roses.
So tomorrow, stop for a moment to smell the roses and remember how blessed we are to be living as Jews in Eretz Yisrael, our eternal homeland.