Last week we shared our initial thoughts just after the Simchas Torah holiday and the massive Hamas terror attack in Israel’s south. And later that first week of this war we shared another post of thoughts and messages (#2) as matters developed and more news, images, responses and reactions came forth.
Here’s our 3rd post of eclectic thoughts, observations and insights – no particular order or emphasis – as our minds and hearts, prayers and hopes (and scrolling!) continues to focus on Israel during this very challenging time:
Let’s start this post with this video from the University at Pennsylvania – UPENN:
THE UPENN TEFILLIN VIDEO
Sometimes an image or clip speaks a thousands words. This short clip of Rabbi Levi Haskelevich of Chabad’s Lubavitch House in Philadelphia helping a UPenn student say the Shema in Tefillin is not only inspiring but empowering. As Rabbi Yochanon Rivkin of Chabad of Tulane said using baseball parlance: it reminds us to keep our eye on the ball!
I ask myself if I’d have the unwavering focus and undivided attention given what transpired just behind them. The stamina & mental fortitude in this clip! Undeterred, unwavering – a remarkable visual of “No Hesech HaDaas!” – halachic term re: no mental distraction or disruption of focus (in Tefillin). It also recalls the message in Tanya Chapter 28, it’s a vivid illustration of that! Kudos to Rabbi Levi Haskelevich and this student at UPenn!
We can get distracted, burdened and disturbed by that which transpires or is said around us. That would be a normal reaction. But this reminds us that we can and ought to focus, let’s keep our eye on the ball!
WHAT TO SAY?
After leaving teaching and finishing up the Maimonides School “MC” I stopped by my parents home to say good Shabbos to my father. Many of you know that he’s somewhat physically limited now (but still pushing himself BH!), and sometimes (or too much) speech can be difficult, but his mind is strong. The people at the synagogue asked him to voice record a message for Shabbat, something uplifting for this stressful time. We sat together for about 15 minutes, I saw he was thinking. But it didn’t come to him. He didn’t say much, but I could almost read his thoughts – yes, there were many cliche or expected things to say, but sometimes words fail us.
It reminded me of Rebbe’s three days of silence before responding to the terror attack on the students and school-teacher in Kfar Chabad, Israel. It reminds me of a piece of Lekutei Diburim that explains the verse “how silence is praise” that sometimes or for some things it can be overwhelming and hard to express in words. Some things hurt too much, or it is too soon, to have a message. It made me remember that while rabbis and communal leaders are always expected to have answers, but obviously, we don’t always have the answers. Sometimes that humility itself is an answer. He said he’d think about it more and have something to share on Shabbos.
Now, not to misconstrue this to excuse the many who have been silent and absent in this time of tremendous Jewish and Israeli sorrow. One of the great hurts of this time is to have (supposedly) good people say nothing – or worse. Many progressives and liberals have been especially shocked and hurt with those they partnered on many causes, only for them to be silent or critical of Israel in the aftermath of such a cruel and brutal massacre, including unspeakable horrors targeted against civilians, women and children, the elderly, with gruesome horrors unimaginable in 2023. This has been a period of clarity – a litmus test of morality and basic human decency. This is an eye-opening time – and the silence is telling, it can be deafening!
But there’s a different kind of silence, a deeper silence, also a telling and loud silence, and I saw that in my father on Friday before Shabbat.
THE UPSWELL SURGE OF MITZVAH INTEREST
THE AISHET CHAYIL SONG VIDEO
check back as we finish up writing this Post #3…