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KJ Hannah Greenberg

Sustaining Emunah

More and more frequently, I feel numb. Although I’ve been strong since early October, it’s now February. At least, I still cry at Facebook reels featuring IDF soldiers being reunited with their loved ones and at reels featuring Israel’s wounded soldiers enduring arduous rehabilitation.

It’s not so much that I’m frozen by dread or hopelessness as it is that I’m depleted by activity. I’ve worn myself to a shadow from having family members and the children of dear friends going into and out of battle, and from helping to support displaced persons, terror victims, and other members of Am Yisrael who are suffering from all-encompassing collateral damage.

On the other hand, weariness is no excuse for not “showing up.” To replenish myself, I can self-nurture. To prevent more of my essential bits from being spent, I can reinforce limits. What’s more, I can break months into weeks, weeks into days, and days into hours. I can and have to ask Hashem to strengthen me.

I’m fortunate to be able to share my groceries with deprived families. I’m privileged to cook for compromised “brothers and sisters.” As well, it’s good that there exist individuals who coordinate aid drives’ collection points and who make sure that meals are delivered to the needy.

Additionally, I’m fatigued from fielding calls from folks living abroad who lack the temerity to question popular sentiments, i.e. who lack the fortitude to stand against widely held and increasingly articulated antisemitism. These persons persist in electronically, or otherwise, getting in touch with me so that I, an Israeli and an observant Jew, will reassurance them that their missing answerability, as a Jew, or as a human being, that their turning a blind eye toward proliferating evil, is okay.

My response to them is silence. Those folks in Diaspora, those men and women who side rhetorically with the haters, won’t get my condonation, but will receive my compassion. They’ve substituted fear for faith. From my standpoint, i.e., from within a community of believers living in Eretz Yisrael, I know that I ought to be kindhearted toward them because they are spiritually frail.

Beyond the above, it’s also unacceptable that, throughout these months, a religious women’s group, to which I belong, looked to me, a relatively unlearned associate, for hizach.

Conversely, it’s silly of me to devalue myself. Only Hashem knows the worth of each of us. Whereas I meant to share gratitudes to encourage other members to cleave to thankfulness, it’s okay that those ladies framed my sharing of upbeat words as a task exclusive to me. If one knows aleph, one’s obliged to teach aleph. Not in this case nor in any other do I determine the outcomes of my deeds.

Concurrently, I’m further worn from taking care of overwhelmed friends. Sadly, in the course of this span, no one thought to take care of me. Essentially, the ability to appreciate events and to articulate that appreciation does not shield one from profoundly experiencing war.

However, I must sidestep bitterness. Resentment leads to idolatry, to focusing on my agenda not on The Boss’s. It’s alright to be exhausted. I’d be dysfunctional, that is, in unhealthy denial, if I wasn’t living with enervation.

Going forward, I need to pray, to breathe deeply, and to continue to articulate gratitudes. It remains true that I am blessed to live in Israel, in Jerusalem, more specifically. It remains true that my generations of descendants are here with me. It remains true that I am growing older with my dear husband, with whom I first bonded when we were in our late teens.

What’s more, it’s the rainy season, a time of fertility, meaning, of natural abundance. BH, b’ayin tova, I can walk. I can see. I can breathe. To boot, I live among Torah Jews. Less importantly, yet consequential to me, I’ve transitioned from working as an academic to being a full-time book author.

I can control my histadlut. I can replenish my psychological resources. I can safeguard my physical well-being. Just as I emerged on the other side of nearly six months of bedrest when gestating my youngest child, and just as I emerged from COVID, I will, likewise, emerge from this horrific war. Now, as then, the schedule and the aftermath belong only to The Aibishter.

A single day is not a terminus; it’s a stage in life. It’s a journey with unspecified ends. If I had to preserve my energy for months, or even weeks, I wouldn’t be able to do so. Providentially, I only have to give my best effort during the next hour. I can sustain my emunah!

About the Author
KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words for an awfully long time. Initially a rhetoric professor and a National Endowment for the Humanities Scholar, she shed her academic laurels to romp around with a prickle of imaginary hedgehogs. Thereafter, her writing has been nominated once for The Best of the Net in poetry, three times for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for poetry, once for the Pushcart Prize in Literature for fiction, once for the Million Writers Award for fiction, and once for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay. To boot, Hannah’s had more than forty books published and has served as an editor for several literary journals.
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