Life out here is not always the picturesque bales of hay basking in a golden halo, or the pink new born buds of the first blueberries I like to post on this website. Satan lurks around the bend as we read about in the book of Job and at times it seems the book of Job was written just for now just for us. All too many times the hay is burnt and the saplings pulled viciously from their new nesting places. This is without going into graphic scenes imprinted in my mind of the people that came to claim this Land for all of Am Yisrael who were butchered bekeedoosh Hashem. This week’s events are all too much deja vus from our lives here.
We learn that the first primordial event that happened on Tisha B’Av was the selling of Yosef. This reincarnated into the sin of the spies and the burning of our Temples and even the Great Inquisition in Spain as well as other horrific events like the expulsion of Jewish families from their homes in Gush Katif and the Northern Shomron- all intolerable acts that succumbed to Satan’s call for division and apathy. All in all Yosef really just went to seek his brothers, “את אחי אנוכי מבקש””. They could not KNOW or digest him.
Times are hard sometimes. Just at a time like this when it felt the entire country was burning down in an all- out arson attack on Israel, my husband and I arrived at a wealthy Jewish community which I will call SOMEWHERE U.S.A. on one of our speaking missions. It had been set up that the Rabbi would invite Moshe to speak before the Mussaf service to the congregation and of course share a little about what is going on in Itamar and in Israel. The Rabbi forgot to fetch him. After services I approached him as he was folding up his tallit and with a look of pure shock in his eyes as I walked right passed the mechitza that divided the men’s section from the women’s section. My heart beating I said “Shabbat Shalom!’ “Can I help you?” was his response. “Do I KNOW you?” was his second response. And so in saying who I was he immediately kind of rolled his eyes and said, “Remind me in the afternoon service to invite your husband up to speak” and then it happened again. This was no accident. Israel was burning down and I had no way to tell about it. The scheduled house meeting for Saturday night was basically unattended because the Rabbi “forgot” to mention it as he spoke about the various kiddishes and social events and Bark Mitzvahs (yes, bark) that were due to happen that week in their town. Maybe there was no room in the itinerary for us… I pondered it greatly. Devastated, we rolled into to the local pizza place for something to eat before returning to NY and then back home to Israel. I felt a little dizzy as I walked past a sign that said “ITAMAR STRONG” with pictures of me and Moshe and the owner of the pizza store that had come to stand with us after the Fogel massacre back home some years earlier. I went searching the packed store for the owner who I found on the floor behind the counter, his black pony tail packed neatly at the top of his head. He was down on his hands and knees as he scrubbed away at something and when he got up it was to face someone who asked him, “Can I return this slice- I have bubbles in my pizza!” The owner, let’s call him Jon (והמבין יבין) at that point turned pretty much red and then screamed, “There’s a bubble in your pizza!?Let me tell you something mister- There are people being stabbed in Israel now! There are entire forests burning down there now! And you’re crying about your pizza!??????????” ! What timing – suddenly from his side view he caught a glimpse of us and his entire expression changed. His face lit up and his smile slowly widened till it reached his ears!
So we left that town with a love donation in the end! The saving grace of the hour was -The Shvartza Wolf that came to console us in our hour of desperation. The people, heck- they just kept eating and eating- his being the only kosher pizza place for miles. They just couldn’t ever KNOW – let alone digest us. Jon’s parting words to us were “Sheeabood Mitzrayim!- they are on a perpetual lunch break! They are all just slaves in Egypt but we are mishpacha.”
Today is Rosh Chodesh Av. We diminish in pleasure full experiences now, no happy events for now – no vacations. There is enough sadness and retribution going on today to help us along in this commandment, trust me… Our reality is not perfect and not complete- not until the perfect entire redemption happens. But we are reminded of that and the hurt makes room for tikkun, for action, for doing something about it. It starts by recognizing and giving an opportunity to share about it, to do something about it. This really cannot be done without incredible self- sacrifice, without getting literally down on the floor. It comes with pain.
When we came to settle this place that really had nothing but hard turf and not much more, way before metal detectors and monitors were being placed at the entrance to the Temple Mount- the Muslims went wild. It was Erev Tisha Ba’Av and we were hardly on the ground a year or so. We were ten young families and there were some Sephardim, some Ashkenazim and some Yemenites. In discussing how exactly we would formulate the prayer service in the makeshift prefab that served as our synagogue, the question came up how the service would be conducted- would it be a version based on the traditions of which eidah exactly?- The acrid smell of smoke made us stop in mid -sentence as we ran out to see the only sheep pen go up in flames. “I think we need to attend to more pending issues” was the answer of the decisiveness of the hour. Hashem really doesn’t care what accent we daven in.
The billion Muslims in the world do not need today to be provoked by a handful of Jews going up to Har HaBayit or even a torrent of Jews going back to our holiest site (hallevay). The situation isn’t “blowing up” for any reason other than Jihad. They were violent when the State of Israel was created, and were unrestrained before that. The middle east has been bleeding for almost two decades regardless of Jews settling Israel or going up to the Temple Mount. Syria is being ripped apart, Iraq bleeding, Afganistan quivering and Europe flooded with ticking time bombs and just for the fun of it entire parking lots burnt to the ground and worse, as once peaceful classic historic areas are being destroyed. It has got nothing to do with the Jews. Israel must stop offering sacrifices and stop apologizing for being Israel. The chaos created though can and should make room for us to fix, to confirm our history and enduring dedication, to show the eternal bond of memory and identity. This is the right time at this time to nourish and surprise as Yosef did at the end of that story while they were sitting around eating a meal and digesting.
The core tikkun of this time is Shalom Bayit- peace at home- within the family, the mishpacha- the Bayit- The House of Hashem. Let world events be and let’s focus on us. It’s an intimate time. Sometimes it means you have to get down on the floor as we do on Tisha Ba’Av in order to accommodate through humility. It’s all in the family. Stop pushing your brother aside. Listen to your sister when she wants to share her heart. Honor your parents. Try and hold it together for land’s sakes! Division caused the Kingship to split which left a huge crack in our foundation that allowed room for havoc. Yosef collected his brothers to him and a nation came out of that family, a nation that finally leaves Sheeabood Mitzrayim- no more slaves sucking up to self- abrogation but like it says in Psalms: “You will ARISE and Hashem will take pity on Zion- the time determined has come. For your servants love her very stones, they take pity on her dust. The nations will fear the name of Adonai and all the kings on earth your glory, when Adonai has rebuilt Zion, and shows Himself in Glory.” We are willing to lay down and rectify even the sin of the snake in Eden in order to build a family.
I got an e-mail today I want to share with you. It says, ” Dear Friends- I am so worried about you at the West Bank. Please prepare yourselves to leave as soon as possible. The uprising is just beginning. The Palestinians will do anything to own East Jerusalem, the Golan and the West Bank- you will be renting from them until Mashiach comes! I am so worried- take a vacation.”
All is not quiet on the eastern front- here’s your chance to really make a difference. We as I said now we are not able to take a vacation and from our mission here- NEVER!! Please tell everyone you know about Friends of Itamar who are here like a peg holding down the heart of this Land. What better time than now to fill the void, intensify our activities in making prophecy come true as we come to stand tall and crown Hashem in his House on Zion as we together stand as one united family. Make room for someone in your life. Make room for us.
Chodesh tov! Besorot Tovot!