This morning, the man who sits next to me in shul said “have a good day” as he was leaving. I said “you too,” but I didn’t look up, hoping he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
How am I supposed to have a good day when 240 men, women, and children are captive in some terror tunnel deep beneath the ground?
I can’t get them out of my head. What are they thinking as they sit there day after day? What does the mind do in such a prolonged state of crisis? The children – can they simply cry for days and weeks on end, or do the tears dry up after time? And if so, then what?
And the parents, the loved ones who are back at home, waiting, wondering, praying. How does one live with this sustained agony of unknowing?
Does the mind eventually snap? Does the heart eventually break? Is there some dissociative release where one finally slips into an alternate consciousness and drifts beyond the pain of an impossible reality?
I’m trying to focus on my morning prayers, but these are the thoughts that ravage me when it’s quiet and I’m not distracted. I’m trying to stay positive, but it’s hard.
I know that G-d runs the universe. I know that He is One, and that a leaf does not blow in the wind anywhere in the world if He does not will it to be so. I remind myself multiple times daily with the recital of the Shema – there is nothing but He alone, and we are all facets of a simple unity that disguises itself as this complex multiplicity. I know that He has a plan. I know that no evil descends from above and that this too is for the best… but I don’t understand!
I vacillate between these moments of clarity and these spasms of pain. That’s okay, I suppose. That’s normal. That’s the reality of being human.
Israel has begun its ground invasion of Gaza. It is time for the rest of us to invade the heavens.
We each have a role to play in this drama. There are no spectators. None of us is safe and comfortable, far away from the battlefield. We are all in it. We are all in it together. The battlefield is here, swirling around us.
Every one of us is a soldier in Tzivos Hashem/the army of G-d. Our voices are our weapons. Our words are our ammunition. He is waiting for us to storm His palace and demand an end to this madness.
Please, G-d, please rescue Your captives! Please release Your children! Please heal Your wounded, protect Your soldiers, guard and guide Your people! Please let the earth know no more war, please swallow up suffering and death! Please bring peace to every corner of Your universe, to every one of Your creations! Please open our eyes so that we can see You in ourselves and in one another!
This week we read parshas Vayeira, which means “and He appeared.” This is our ultimate prayer – that Hashem should appear to us. This is what we have been praying for and working toward throughout the millennia – that He should be seen and recognized throughout His creation. This is our mission and purpose in the world – to be a light unto the nations, which means to illuminate the darkness and reveal that G-d is here, even here.
At this time of intense darkness, we must join together and storm the heavens and proclaim to G-d that we are ready for Him to appear to us. We are ready to go out from this tunnel, to be freed from this tunnel-vision that has kept our minds narrow and our hearts constricted. We are ready to see the full splendor of His Oneness.
I’m hoping, praying, pleading that today will be the day. If each one of us takes just a minute or two to pause and raise our voice and implore G-d to appear to us, then maybe He will determine that it is finally time do so. And then, when He clears away the darkness, when the knowledge of G-d will fill the earth like the ocean fills the sea, then we will beat our swords into ploughshares, the captives will be gathered from the four corners of the earth, and we will “have a good day” indeed, the day of goodness and peace that we have been awaiting all along.