Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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1 Adar 5766 - March 1, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Opinion & Comment
Forum: Whose Road Map Is It Anyway?

by Sarah Azulay

It is no exaggeration to state that life in Israel today seems utterly fragile and undetermined.

Israel is no ordinary land, let's face it; all the eyes of the world are on it, and what's more, as the Torah tells us so eloquently, the A-mighty Himself guards it specially. This means, of course, that Israel's security rests solely in the hands of the A-mighty.

Israel has been allotted to the Jewish people as part of the Divine Road Map. Let's be blunt about it. This is our land with no apologies. What the world seemingly overlooks is the strength of this Divine connection; the Almighty promised us that this connection is eternal. In other words, the Divine Road Map will ultimately prevail; our question should be what the Almighty seeks from us, as individuals and as a nation, to bring its reality into the world.

As we struggle with ourselves, internally and externally, in the face of soaring poverty to the point where one in four children in Israel does not have enough food to eat, and the widening divisions among our society, all of us, as reasoning individuals, should be asking just what is going on in our country and with our nation. It is obvious that Israel, and the Jewish people generally, are struggling through a somber period; we are groping to find ourselves, our identity, and our borders, both spiritually and physically. It is in this confusing time that we sense that dramatic changes are coming; it is a critical moment when we, as Jews, must reassess our true identity: do we step up to our destiny in the Divine Road Map as the Light of the Nations, or do we cast it aside and join the crowd in attempting to break us apart, piece by piece?

It is a difficult crossroads for a noble and brave people who have suffered so excessively. It is no wonder that somewhere along the way we have, at some level, forgotten our sense of purpose. It really does seem as if the sky is falling.

But before we get too disheartened, we should remember that this world is not as it appears. If we take a step back, with a little bit of belief we might be able to catch a glimpse of the Divine hand which has crafted the chaos of our times. Hashem is the ultimate Craftsman and He certainly wants us to reflect how we, as a people, have reached such a desperate point.

Although we have reached quite a low point, when circumstances appear to be at their worst in the course of Jewish history, they often and suddenly turn for the best. Redemption can come "in the blink of an eye." The question is whether we, as a nation, will have to endure someone else's attempt to define or destroy the Jewish nation and its land, and more importantly, what we as a people can do to help prevent such catastrophes.

The protection from such catastrophes for the Jewish nation lies in teshuvoh, or return to the path of Torah. There are no words to estimate the importance of teshuva, especially at our point in history when many great present- day rabbis have stated that the Redemption of the Jewish people and the arrival of our Moshiach, is literally "on the doorstep."

Hashem promises of the Redemption, "In its time I will hasten it." This has been interpreted to mean that if the Jewish people merit the arrival of Moshiach through good deeds, Torah, and keeping the mitzvos, then our Redemption will be glorious and Hashem will "hasten it." The other alternative is the arrival of Moshiach "in its time" which our prophets have described in frightening detail with the foreboding of immense suffering by our nation and the world generally.

Divine edicts regarding the Jewish people are based on our collective actions as a nation, and our individual behavior as well. In a sense, G-d has provided contingency plans and depending upon the behavior of the Jewish nation at any moment, any of these prophecies could crystallize.

This, of course, means that each one of us can have a tremendous impact on world betterment generally, and the manner in which we, and all of humanity, are redeemed.

Teshuva does not have to be dramatic. It can be accomplished at any level of spirituality on the spectrum, wherever a person finds himself. A person only has to take a tiny step: perhaps thank Hashem in the morning for another day, make a blessing on a piece of fruit before eating it, a kind word or gesture to someone in need, refraining from gossip, or a bit more Torah knowledge — anything that brings a person closer to Torah is teshuvoh.

Each step counts so much, and this movement toward or away from Torah impacts not only the individual, but also the world at large, and the Divine scales of justice one way or another.

Humanity is at a turning point. It is no accident that Israeli society is split in so many ways. It is no accident that just more than half the world's Jews live in Israel.

It seems, in light of these numbers, that the wars which are currently raging, the real and present threat of nuclear power landing in wild hands, and the current state of Israeli and world affairs, that the world is tottering, and its fate could tip one way or the other. Who knows which final action of which individual, which prayer, or which cry will be the ultimate catalyst for the climax?

Make no mistake — the Divine Road Map will prevail. The question each of us must ask ourselves every day is what we, as individuals, have accomplished in that day, to hasten the finalization of the Divine Road Map for true peace in favor of a sweet and final Redemption and how we, in our own way, have improved ourselves and the world. Whose road map is it anyway? It is clearly the Almighty's with a great amount of input from His Children of Israel.

In memory of my mother, Chana Leah bat Rivka, on her sixth yahrtzeit 22 Shvat.

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