People often report that in the tense instances before defining moments in life, they “saw their life flash before their eyes”.
I think that, as a nation, we are experiencing this phenomenon now. We are on the cusp of a defining moment. And the eternal past two weeks have conjured vivid images or hearkened to specific moments in our collective lives, otherwise known as Jewish history. Though we believe with perfect faith that this moment will lead us toward greater heights and joyous times, it does not diminish from the intensity of the hour.
Here, in no particular order, are some flashes I have been seeing when my eyelids shutter restlessly in the middle of the night:
I see the moment when evil, cowardly, misguided Amalek attacked our ancestors from the rear as we left Egypt, targeting the weak and helpless.
I see the moment when King Shaul had pity on the descendants of those Amalekim despite being Divinely commanded to eradicate them all.
I see the moment when Jewish brother hated brother and sabotaged Jerusalem’s storage and supplies, advancing the onset of the exile in favor of peaceful coexistence with brothers who thought or behaved a little differently than them.
I see the moment when Haman, another cursed Amalekite descendant, set out to destroy every Jew, from young to old, children, mothers. Just because.
I see the moment when other human beings hopped on Haman’s bandwagon, eager to join the senseless violence.
I see Medieval blood libels accusing Jews of spilling innocent blood.
I see moments when we became arrogant and haughty, taking pride in our achievements without remembering that any success we have comes from God, and is ours to use to be a shining light unto the nations of the world.
But I also see the moment when Bnei Yisrael was called upon to donate to the building of the Mishkan and the response was so resounding that the outpouring had to be stopped.
I see the moment when everyone brought their unique gift, because no two Jews are the same, and we each have something precious to offer. And we receive other’s gifts graciously, recognizing the source of love from which it emanates.
I see the moment when Shmuel finished off Agag because sometimes there can be no mercy for a society that is so far gone from human sensibilities.
I see the moment Queen Esther rallied the Jewish people to fast and pray on her behalf before she approached the King begging him to spare them all.
And I see the moment when we Jews struck back at Haman and our haters, having sought and received the stamp of approval from the leader of the most powerful nation on earth.
I see the countless moments when our brave warriors took up arms and fought the many and the cunning. Though we were so uncertain which way the battle would go, when we raised our eyes to heaven we prevailed.
I see the moment when a brave Jewess stared evil in the face and welcomed him into her home, buying time until the moment when he received his due.
And when I open my eyes again before dawn, I see glimmers of hope that Hashem’s salvation is at our doorstep.
I witness selflessness and love in measures we could only have dreamed of three short weeks ago.
I see brothers coming to share the burden of their brothers in arms and choosing to stand shoulder to shoulder until the final, decisive victory is ours.
I see young children giving comfort and direction to adults who are paralyzed by shock and fear at what they never thought they would see in their days, in our ‘House’.
I see the youth tirelessly stepping up, no task is too large or too menial, reassuring us that when the baton is passed, we are poised to win the marathon.
I see kilometers on kilometers being driven with deliveries of anything and everything from all corners of the earth to our soldiers and citizens.
I see doors swung open to receive displaced families and make them feel at home away from home.
I hear songs and prayers lifting spirits and raising morale, injecting us all with confidence and reassurance. We are at our best when we are one.
Please, Holy One, save and redeem Your holy ones!
When we celebrate holidays and miracles, we know the outcome of the story. We sometimes forget how brave and full of faith our ancestors were in the face of their crisis, before the happy ending. We can relate only too well now to that sense of fear and uncertainty. But we can also derive hope and strength in knowing that we are part of the eternal Am Yisrael. May we soon be able to look back at this moment in time and see our strength, our perseverance, and the hand of Hashem reflected in our success.