Many articles have been written trying to make sense of the spontaneous and raw outburst of joy following my uncle, Sholom Rubashkin’s, release. Each explains a specific angle:
- The power of emunah and tefillah
- The collective response to when one Jew is singled out for selective treatment
- The power unity brings.
While these are all true, I think the outpouring of excitement expressed something more fundamental.
Deep inside, each one of us is a child – an uncomplicated, positive, and believing soul. It doesn’t take much to be happy. With time this kernel of purity gets covered in cynicism. Emotional challenges, disappointments, spreadsheets, and deadlines box us in as we morph into human beings honed to deliver services.
Suddenly, with a Whatsapp message or phone call, we had an excuse to celebrate. We used his freedom to break free of our own constraints, be they sadness, anger, or jealousy. The neighbor who gets on our nerves or the bad habits of our relative – they are no longer significant. Now was a time for celebration.
And what a celebration it was. Dancing with unfettered joy, locked arm-in-arm with Jews I had never seen before, was an experience unlike any other. Mainly, its challenges or sad events that lift us out of the daily grind and bring us together. We were finally able to do so through joy and celebration.
Here was a man who spent eight (!) years in a place meant to turn people into numbers, yet he retained his humanity. If he could do it, then so can we. He ultimately went free, and so will we.
We’re told the coming redemption will be a mixture of nature and the supernatural. This may have been a taste of it. A supernatural joy, but experienced in this world. We were the same people, but with ignited souls.
When the King of kings finally uses the stroke of His pen to commute our collective sentence in the current exile, nothing fundamentally new will happen. We will be the same Chaim, Esther, Eli, and Sara, but with a soul on fire. There’s nothing more natural, nay supernatural, than that.
Wishing you an enjoyable miracle of Shabbos,