Providence Hebrew Day School, 450 Elmgrove Ave. Providence, RI 401-331-5327
Dear Parents, Over the past few weeks, the newspapers have been filled with comments on the Israel-Iran conflict, the terrorist rocket attacks on Israel, and the horrific events in Toulouse, France. How do we respond to these terrible tragedies that have befallen our brothers and sisters? Scary news stories are heard by our students and children on an almost daily basis, and we recognize that the world has changed over the past few years and that the fear of anti-Semitism is real and clear. At a closer look, however, we realize that anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head for generations. We recite in the hagada: “Shelo echad bilvad amad aleinu l’chaloseinu.” This verse that we sing in the famous song “V’hi She’amda” tells us that in every generation there are those who would like to destroy Klal Yisrael, but Hashem saves us from their hands. I would like to focus on this phrase. Often we assemble in groups outside of shul on Shabbos and we get into political discussions about our views on how our political leaders are responding to a given situation that affects us as a people. I would never suggest that we cease all political conversations or cancel leadership missions to advocate on behalf of Israel and its security needs. We must, however, remember that we as a nation do have a long history of tragedies that have seemed impossible to overcome, but Hashem has always come to our rescue. I am also not suggesting that we just throw up our hands and say, “Hashem, it is up to You,” as we don’t rely on miracles. I once saw a refrigerator magnet which stated: “Good morning! This is G-d; I will be handling all of the many issues that will come up in your life today and I won’t need your assistance in these matters. So, sit back and have a good day!”
Last week, I wrote about the concept of mesorah, tradition, and how Judaism is based on the transmission of our heritage from generation to generation. Our forefather, Yaakov, taught us how to respond in the face of crisis. We are required to approach the battle on three fronts: prayer, gift, and preparation for war. While political advocacy can be looked at as preparing a gift and is a required step, we must remember that true salvation is best achieved when we turn to Hashem with the realization that he is a Kol Yachol, of infinite ability; we know that through prayer, faith in Hashem, and performance of His commands with love, we can count on His salvation. As the verse in the hagada states: “VeHakadosh Baruch Hu matzileinu miyadam - and Hashem saves us from the hands of our enemies.” On Pesach we read about Krias Yam Suf, the splitting of the sea. The verse tells us that Miriam the prophetess came out with a musical instrument called a “tof” to play music and thank Hashem. Rashi comments that Miriam and the other women had complete faith that the Jews would be saved, and they prepared themselves by bringing along musical instruments to celebrate.
We are told that Nissan is the month of the ultimate geulah, redemption. We turn to Hashem in prayer and in deed and ask Him to bring an end to the tragedies that affect us. This is an important lesson for us to internalize and to share with our children. We and our children wear bullet proof vests every day as children living in the palace of our Father, the King. All we have to do is ask! This Pesach we will all turn to Hashem in prayer and thanks, but even more so, with complete faith that Hashem WILL help us through these challenging times. We pray that this Nissan will be the month of redemption and of our return to Yerushalayim in its splendor and glory.
Chag Kasher Vesameach,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman, Dean