This week’s note is dedicated to the biggest wonder of creation; a survivor, a remnant of an ancient nation, the Jew.
As we mark the tenth of Teves, the encircling of Jerusalem by the Babylonian armies, let us focus on the positive. The Jewish survivor. The fighter, who in each generation, picked up what remained and focused on rebuilding. It is this survivor, a literal ud mutzal m’eish, a firebrand saved from fire, who is the hero of our people.
The Jew has been through it all. His people, once fully independent, enjoyed their own land with a grand house of worship where they were visited and honored by all. Attacked and then uprooted from their Promised Land, wave after wave of Jewish communities were taken to foreign countries and cultures, into a bitter exile.
There were golden times, and there were dark ages, with some host governments appreciating the blessings of having a Jewish population, and others opting to use their Jewish citizens as scapegoats to blame all ills.
Within the Jewish nation as well, there were years of unity and shared vision of an eternal Torah given at Sinai, and there were years the mitzvot were looked upon with contempt.
Yet after each period of suffering there arose a generation of determined survivors. Determined to establish the next generation of Jews. Untiring in their efforts to keep alive the teachings of the Torah.
In our century we owe everything we have to those persecuted during the destruction and terror that was the Holocaust. They could have given up entirely, or focus on their victimhood and entitlement. Nobody could blame them. They had every excuse to become angry, vengeful and lifeless.
Yet our grandparents did not give in. They rebuilt the Jewish world child by child, family by family, and community by community. One who hadn’t heard of the Holocaust would think that Jews were always a large, thriving and successful community here in America. Surely, the many miracles the Jewish people are currently experiencing is in their honor.
We salute you. We honor you. And we hope that in the very near future you will be given the ultimate honor when we return to our land and G-d himself says to each one personally nitzchuni banai nitzchuni, you have bested me my children, you have bested me.
May we have a joyous and purposeful Shabbos,