There are times in a person’s life when he or she just stands still in the middle of hell, that hell may be a wind blowing burning pit of flames or a frozen tundra, blasting cold throughout your body. And in that split moment when you are your wit’s ends, all of a sudden the burning fire or the chilling cold and the monstrous winds just stop and come to a screeching halt.
At that moment you are no longer isolated. You are no longer worried. You are no longer afraid. At that moment FEAR BECOMES ARAID OF YOU. Life becomes your servant. Dreams become your ladder. And you become your leader. At that moment you take stock of yourself and you see the power and good within. No longer the naysayers have any power over you. You stand proud, erect, confident – you are in control!
Tu B’Shevat is fast approaching. And in the middle of the winter when the wind howls, the cold is blistering, the emptiness is all pervasive you are like the bare tree which taps into its life-sap to survive for dear life. Suddenly your survival instincts are tapped to the fullest because you have reached rock bottom. There is no longer any place to run but to reach into the sap of your life force and bring it to the surface to resurrect your very life, being, and purpose.
It is at this time WE, THE JEWISH PEOPLE, AND ESPECIALLY, US LIVING IN ISRAEL, who must take the Tu B’Shevat moment and just stand still and reflect upon our greatness. Not in order to praise ourselves, but in order to take stock of ourselves and invigorate ourselves to reach further heights.
WE, THE JEWISH PEOPLE, have withstood 2000 years of suffering that are so great that no human mind can truly digest it. The amount of poverty, rapes, murders, bigotry, humiliation, fear, horror, brutality, agony, abandonment, and struggle. WE have endured are light years in magnitude and scope. Our superhuman strength and feats are universes of commitment to keep steadfast to our identity as the JEWISH PEOPLE.
How many of our families members in the past 2000 years have been murdered, raped, abused, or sadly so frightened that they assimilated, so none would persecute them ever again?
But, WE, who managed to withstand these trials and tribulations we must realize and take pride in being descendants of giants. And, we, who remain steadfast and who do not kowtow to the non-Jewish voices that allure us to leave our culture, heritage, and uniqueness must take stock of ourselves and realize we are giants as well.
Yet, within our amazing People, there is a group that is even taller in commitment. This group is the group of our Jewish brothers and sisters who have left the 2000-year-old galut – THE EXILE – and has made the Land of Israel their home again.
To understand the commitment of the Oleh (90% of Israeli Jews are olehs, be it from 1800s or the present) one must understand it is a commitment that is extraordinary beyond extraordinary.
We, who have returned, left the security, comfort, and mindset of our exiled homes and have reclaimed our national and familial roots in a Land surrounded by missiles, tanks, bombs, chemicals, gas, and weapons that are held in the hands of those who have the will and hatred to commit genocide. And who have tried but failed on several occasions.
WE, the Oleh, found the courage and confidence to silence the inner voice of the fear of war from the outside.
And at the same time, WE, the Oleh, found the courage and confidence to silence the inner voice of loneliness, insecurity, fear, and on many occasions outright, desperation.
Many of us have encountered con-artists, crooks, bureaucracy, communication problems, and great cultural differences. Nonetheless,
each Oleh has mustered the sap of LIFE in the middle of his or her hellish frozen wasteland and silenced the winds, howls, and sounds of the madness of isolation, doubt and the feeling of utter abandonment.
Because each Oleh is superhuman in self-commitment, self-respect, and self-survival. Each Oleh is a hero or heroine.
Hence, with hands, outstretched, hearts, open, and with minds, knowing, all 6 Million plus Jewish People living in Israel must embrace each other, love each other, help each other, and most importantly, remind each other of how great and heroic they are, and thus reinvigorate ourselves as the NATION THAT NEVER WAVERED FROM ITS 2000 YEAR OLD OATH, “IF I FORGET THEE O’JERUSALEM, LET MY RIGHT HAND FORGET ITS POWER.”
OUR RIGHT HAND is as adroit, powerful, whole and beautiful as the day 2000 years ago, when our captors upon Roman slave ships carried us away as shackled slaves into the EXILE, when we swore we would we RETURN. And RETURN WE HAVE!
AND NOW, IN this, 70th the YEAR OF TU BESHEVAT, WE, the Olim of Israel must silence doubt, reach deep within ourselves, and bring forth as a UNITED PEOPLE, the LIFE FORCE within each of us and our fellow Oleh and plant the seeds of hope and greater commitment to an even greater and glorious AM YISRAEL CHAI!
BLESSED BE ALL OLIM! BLESSED BE ALL GROUPS THAT HELP OLIM!
BLESSED BE KEEP OLIM MOVEMENT!
THANK YOU, HASHEM! IN THE MERITS OF THE HOLY PARENTS! WHOSE FAMILIES MADE ALIYA IN 1878 AND 1951.
HAPPY TU BESHEVAT, 5778
Rabbi Avi, son of Mordechai and Henya, Schwartz