"It once happened that the elders of Yerushalayim went down
to their towns and proclaimed a fast . . . because wolves ate
two young children on the other side of the Yarden"
Morai verabbosai! When wolves ate two children it was
reason enough to make a fast and for the elders to go down to
their towns to announce it, because of something that had
happened far away, on the other side of the Yarden.
How much more so ought we to rend our garments when we hear
evil tidings from beyond our borders, about how the hooligans
and human beasts destroy and slaughter children.
My brothers! My people! Consider our present situation. Am
Yisroel is already used to continual suffering. Most of
the pages of our history are stained with blood and inscribed
with the names of martyrs, to an even greater extent than our
most recent records.
But here is the problem: in every other time, the vast
majority of Yisroel believed with wholehearted faith. After
every calamity they repented and returned to Hashem,
fortifying their spirits with pure, untainted faith. They
always fulfilled the posuk, "Let us search out our
ways and inquire and return to Hashem" (Eichah 3:40).
This was their comfort and the source of their courage. They
were able to bear all kinds of poverty, suffering and
Ever since we collectively began relating to events as random
occurrences, R'l, things have been different. We
ascribe things to natural cause-and- effect, viewing them as
haphazard consequences of shifting but explainable
circumstances. Everyone thinks that our difficulties can be
solved by finding the right combination of natural means. We
do not take Heaven into our reckoning as we used to,
attributing all that befalls us to Hashem's direct
We know that, in truth, it is vain to place our trust in
rescue brought about by human agency. "If Hashem doesn't
build a house, its builders will have toiled over it in vain;
if Hashem doesn't guard a city, its watchman will have kept
vigil in vain" (Tehillim 127:1).
We have forgotten all this, though, and we ascribe everything
to the Arabs' hatred and to their bloodlust. Why don't we
reason and ask ourselves as follows: the bitter truth is that
they are murderers and corrupt by nature but how is it that
we managed to live alongside them until now? Why in the past
didn't they behave like they are behaving today?
Now we can see clearly that they are wild animals and that
Hashem in His goodness has kept them shackled hitherto. Now
that He has removed the bars that were keeping them at bay,
they have the power to do whatever they want.
But we don't think along these lines. The irreligious try to
play it down and try to show the public that our brothers
fought valiantly and managed to push back hordes of Arabs and
that we've only failed where none of our defense forces were
The old time Jew would accept every misfortune R'l and
every untoward event happily, as Chazal say (Brochos
54), "A person is obliged to bless Hashem over evil in
the same way that he blesses over good," i.e.
joyfully. How can such a thing be?
Rabbenu Yonah compares it to paying a debt. A person who has
succeeded in paying off a debt is very glad. Similarly,
"Suffering cleanses a person's sins" (ibid. 5), and
through misfortune, one is released from the debt of one's
A Jew would never buckle under his burden. He would get the
better of whatever misfortune befell him, in the wholehearted
belief that it was from Heaven, to settle accounts for his
misdeeds. His positive attitude would dissipate any bad
feelings. Troubles broadened his spirit and the result would
be renewed application to Yiddishkeit.
Things are different now. We are far from pure, untainted
faith. Even when life runs its ordinary course, we find it
burdensome. Certainly, when we encounter stumbling-blocks and
endure suffering, we become utterly sick of our lives.
We ask Hashem to, "Make the shoot of Your servant Dovid grow
swiftly" (Amidah prayer, fifteenth blessing), but we
don't want it to be based on worthless promises and baseless
lies. Thus, we ask Hashem to, "Raise his prestige through
Your salvation." We seek Hashem's salvation, not that of some
government and its lying politics. "For we hope for Your
salvation all day long" -- even though some of the nations do
sometimes elevate and honor the Jews, it ultimately becomes
clear that even they cannot be trusted. We therefore only
seek salvation from Hashem.
We also ask, "And return to Yerushalayim, Your city, with
mercy (even if we are undeserving) and build it soon, in our
days, forever" (ibid. fourteenth blessing) -- not
merely a building of empty promises and politics, for that
has no permanence. It will disappear in a blink and we'll be
left stranded. We only want "an everlasting building"!
Taken from the author's work, Chazon Lamoed.