In these transition days on the Jewish calendar, a time between leaving Egypt (Pesach) and receiving the Torah (Shavuot) we have yet another opportunity for introspection and time to internalize what it means to ME personally and US a nation, to shake off the shackles of slavery controlling our minds and prepare to receive great wisdom that can only be given to a free person, free to think for himself.
The buck didn’t stop at Har Sinai, it wasn’t like blowing the candles out on the birthday cake and making a wish, but the journey of self and nationwide introspection continued as we followed Hashem through the desert in “a Land unsown” until we reached the destined place He chose for us. Am Yisrael still had much uncertainty as to what Eretz Yisrael, the target destination was to be, much like the original template of Avraham Avinu who went to a place he knew little about. Hashem said “I WILL show you.”
Hashem gives us everything we need, not everything we want. It’s what Avraham needed to do then and he was faced with many trials, some of them life threatening, some of them a test in faith. After leaving Egypt we wanted the fish and onions of our cozy days there. We had a hard time transitioning. We came to Israel and had to plow, fight and do things no slave would ever do, like build homes for OURSELVES. It was a free road but it wasn’t easy. Our early pioneers that felt the wave and stirring of redemption just in the last millennium came to malaria infested swamps, of fatal attacks, of starvation in the Promised Land.
Now comes an element into the will of Hashem for what He has planned and our own will- when we ASK Hashem for what we want- because everybody knows that when we stop wanting, we stop living. Here’s the thing, there’s nothing wrong with wanting, but we have to ask Hashem for guidance in asking for the right thing. That’s why we have times like these when Hashem invites us to ask for the right thing- to leave the exile state of mind. It is puzzling to me as we embark on another speaking tour and I reflect on how a large segment of the Jewish community still backs a government who is demanding Israel give up her heart – as turmoil, death and violence surround her- is on her gates (!) yet, the platform is- commit suicide- give up your strategic high central places, give up your inheritance, the place of your fathers, give it up, make her waistline 8 miles wide- and poof- blow out the candles, world- then there will be peace! Where is their freedom of thought?
Here on the ground, the fields and hills are turning from green to gold as the sun warms us and prepares us for Shavuot. The ambience is one of a people so in love with and connected to their Land. It isn’t perfect yet, but that’s what Tikkun Olam is all about- it’s about being free to take the responsibility to ACT, and the rest is in Hashem’s hands.