My beloved city of Ashdod has been under siege this morning.
The first Red Alert siren was at 5:45 AM - we could here two muffled explosions from about a mile outside of town in an open area.
The second Red Alert was at 7:45 AM; I was praying Shacharit with the Melitzer Rebbe's minyan. Again, we heard another muffled explosion from about a mile outside of town, once more in an open area.
The third Red Alert was at 8:14 AM; this time we heard two strong explosions and a third which made the floor shudder. The second explosion was a GRAD missile that landed about 800 meters from my home in the courtyard of the "Lev Simcha" Gerrer Yeshiva. At this time, we know of two very seriously injured and 8 more with light shrapnel wounds. The third was a miracle - a GRAD rocket that went through the roof of a Gerrer Synagogue and crashed through the floor in the middle of morning prayers, but didn't explode! The magnitude of this miracle is mind-boggling - one shudders to think what would have happened if it had exploded."
For those living in the environs of Israel’s southern coastal plain, a Red Alert is not to be trifled with. When the sirens go off everyone goes to a shelter without being told.
An obvious no-brainer, is it not?
The truth is that the odds of the rocket hurting anyone in general are statistically low, while the odds of any specific person suffering an injury or worse are beyond extremely low. Nevertheless, anyone with an ounce of sense seeks a place of safety.
So if it’s all a matter of common sense then how come so few of us run for shelter when the shofar sounds the Red Alert of Elul?
And we’re not talking statistical probabilities here. The Red Alert of Elul is all about the 100% life and death certainty of the Yom HaDin. And yet, the stampede heading for cover toward Hashem’s gift of Teshuva is somewhat less than life threatening.
From this we learn that common sense is not all that common nor is it always sensible.
The give and take of our daily existence has been something of rocky road as of late. Tragic murders committed by our own, terrorist murders committed by the usual suspects, the placement of what was once the world’s richest and greatest country on a road leading to a Third World existence, and a seemingly unending spectacle of the Ribbono Shel Olam’s koach as manifested in “Nature” all over the world, including a local appearance in the form of an earthquake, with the serious possibility of a devastating hurricane following in its wake only 72 hours down the road, have all taken a toll on our equilibrium.
In EmunahSpeak: Now We Know, we said in response to the murder of little Leiby Kletzky, a"h:
“Everyone seems to be in agreement with the suggestion that we should all take on something, be it increased tzeddakah, a commitment to work on a given middah, Shimiras HaLoshon or anything else that will strengthen our Yiddishkeit."
To that we added the following:
“Maybe we should be taking on two somethings rather than one. The first, which is reactive to the potch, conveys our understanding that Hashem is very upset with us, our present confusion as to the details notwithstanding.
That second something is proactive and carries a simple message:
Please, Hashem, let there be no next time.”
In light of all the tragedies that have both subsequently befallen us and are presently hovering over us (Hashem should protect us) coupled with the very unraveling of the secure world we have known these past sixty plus years, “taking on something” doesn’t quite hack it anymore.
Events have moved so rapidly that even the suggestion to take on “two somethings,” a suggestion which I thought was a big deal at the time (merely a month ago) doesn’t come close to addressing our predicament as it presently exists at street level.
The days where we could throw Hashem a bone so to speak and go about our business are over.
On Tisha B’Av I was zoche to hear Rabbi Paysach Krohn say something that can be applied to the situation at hand. He said, "that there are no "one size fits all" solutions to what we lack as a community. Rather, everyone has a unique knowledge of oneself and knows exactly what he or she needs to work on."
Sometimes the simplest things are in reality the most profound.
The Red Alert of Elul speaks to our heart not our ears, and given the tenor of the times in which we live, it requires each of us to put more than a little “something” on the table. Taking our cue from Rabbi Krohn we all have to look within ourselves with laser like penetration at everything, not just something, and then take on as much as we can handle, each and everyone according to his strength of character.