Mesorah (Jewish stuff)

Before Our Feelings Fade

The first thing I did was cry when I heard the heart wrenching news that the three kidnapped boys in Israel were not just kidnapped, but murdered.  Almost the next thing I did was get off of Facebook.  I just couldn’t.  I didn’t want to comment, I didn’t want to read comments or links to articles.  I just wanted to ignore it, to not feel the pain.  But how can I not feel the pain when practically the whole Jewish people are weeping?  It’s not possible.

We all have different reactions to tragedy.  Some of us get angry and cry for revenge.  Some of us are unable to stop crying.  Some wonder how to tell our children.  We may be feeling different things, but we are all feeling together.

Together is something that seems to crop up a lot during times of crisis.  And as a people, we are good at banding together when we need to.  It seems like that it’s a common refrain at sad, tense times: That we are united, and what a shame it is that it always takes a crisis to unite us.

Honestly, I’m tired of hearing it.  I’m tired of hearing platitudes about how we should keep the unity going, but not plans on how to do it.  Words are good, words can be very powerful, but what good are words when we are once again swept away in the flow of mundane life, with all its petty grievances, annoying neighbors, impossible relatives, and so on?

I remember the clarity I felt after my sister-in-law’s death.  I really saw with such certainty the direction that I wanted to go, how I wanted to act and who I wanted to be.  But the clarity fades.  Inspiration fades.  That’s what it does.  We have to latch onto it with actions while we’re feeling it.

So while we are still at the peak of our pain over these boys, while we are having all the feelings, why not commit to one act that will be a merit for the boys, and a merit for peace.

For Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, commit to:

  • learning the laws of the power of speech
  • being kind to someone who is difficult to be around or to tolerate
  • letting go of a petty grievance
  • not talking on your phone while in the checkout line
  • making small talk with the cashier in the grocery store
  • being more patient with your children or family
  • giving someone the benefit of the doubt
  • looking at someone who annoys you as a person and not just someone who annoys you
  • lighting Shabbos candles, even just once
  • signing up for a Partner in Torah
  • smiling and greeting everyone you see

I commit to listening to at least one Torah class or lecture a week (which I totally have not been doing)

May all who mourn be comforted, and may the memory of these precious boys be a blessing.  

21 thoughts on “Before Our Feelings Fade

  1. Hi, I was also thinking about this same issue – doing something concrete to keep up the unity. I was thinking if there was some way we could reach out and get together with other Jewish people in Baltimore who are from different streams of Judaism – people with whom we’d otherwise never have contact. Maybe a Shabbat meal or a women’s evening program. Would you be interested in brainstorming with me?

      1. Check out the Shabbos Project that was originally done in South Africa. It is a beautiful and inspiring project to bring to your community to help create achdut.

  2. Beautiful. Unfortuantely, I’m the type to get angry when things like this happen. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s hard to have sadness without an outlet.

    Some of the ideas I’ve heard are being careful about proper speech for a specific hour of the day, committing to doing one small mitzvah each day (like saying Shema in the morning, washing negel vasser at the proper times, or remembering to say the proper bracha/after-bracha just once a day) or being kind to specific people we see all the time. I’ve found that it’s much harder to keep doing something that takes too much energy or is too vague (“being nice” sounds easy, but we don’t always remember our committment when we’re grumpy/tired/hungry/upset/hurt/frustrated/etc…). Something small, something specific, something recurring (once a day/week/month/etc.).

    I had set up a weekly learning time, and I’ve been terrible about keeping to it, but I’m going to really make an effort to do it, as an aliyah for these special neshamos. Just think of all the zechuyot these neshamos have already by bringing such achdus, tears, prayers and mitzvos from the Jewish nation in the last 3 weeks.

    1. I hear. I didn’t write this in the post, but the second thing I did was get angry. I’m also working on it. I agree that the more specific the goal, the greater chance of success. Excellent point. May you have a lot of hatzlacha in keeping to your learning time (it’s not easy!), and may their neshamos continue to have aliyos.

      1. I am not Jewish but I met you while visiting my son and family. I enjoy reading your blog. This tragic event of the three murdered boys makes my heart ache. How does a parent ever deal with the loss of a dear child? We can understand, perhaps, when one dies of an illness due to being a human; but to have a child taken from this earth by another human is almost impossible for me to grasp. May their dear souls rest in eternal peace where light perpetual shines upon them.

        1. It was a pleasure meeting you; I remember standing in my backyard and shmoozing. :) Thank you for your kind words. I can’t imagine how one deals with a tragedy of this magnitude, and G-d willing, we will never have to face such a loss. I do know that Judaism does provide ample tools for moving forward in the face of immeasurable loss, and the mothers of the slain boys have shown a tremendous amount of faith in our tradition.

  3. Every week I read your blog I feel united with Jews who live a world away so it is not to be underestimated how united we already are, in ways that are perhaps only apparent when there is a crisis.

    1. You’ve given me such comfort with this comment, Joanne! Thank you for reminding me that it’s not all bleak and not to just focus on the negativity I was feeling.

  4. I also responded to this tragic event with anger. Anger towards Hamas and the terrible people who did this and to our government for remaining silent in Israel’s time of need.
    I am working on realizing that everything Hashem does is really for the best…and that it is good in disguise.
    It sounds trivial, but I hope that this will B”H help me strengthen my emuna.

    1. I don’t think it’s trivial at all! Working on strengthening emunah is a lifelong work. On a somewhat cynical note, I wouldn’t trust any government to support us. Historically speaking, even administrations that have been supportive at times can only be relied on for serving their own political interests more than supporting our little state. It’s really just us and Hashem.

      1. Rivki, that’s not cynical. I think it’s the most pure form of emunah there is. Yasher Koach for getting there and for saying it out loud. That last sentence is everything. Just say it with an earnest facial expression rather than a cynical one, and see how beautiful it is?

        Thanks for this post, and thanks to all the Jews the world over who have felt our pain here in Israel. I am finding it much more effective to take my concrete steps that I decided on too. And I love your suggestions for more!

  5. I was in Eretz Yisrael for the entire ordeal. My daughter and I decided to go to the Kosel to daven one Sunday night. When we got off the train, there were so many people–we wondered what was going on. It turned out that there were many advertisements to come say Tehillim and Daven at the Kosel for these three boys. I’ve never seen so many Jews in one place! It brought tears to my eyes. There were all kinds of Jews there–from every kind of background–davening their hearts out. We didn’t know yet…It’s an evening I will never forget. I was very proud to be there davening with my fellow Jews.

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