emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Thinking About Yenem

In EmunahSpeak: Goin' Ostrich, we pointed out that, as is well known, the Gemara in Yevamos teaches that every disaster that comes upon the world comes only because of Klal Yisroel.  It’s always about us.  It always was and it always will be.

As a proxy for earthquakes and floods we have missiles, but instead of seeing them through the eyes of the Gemara so as to utilize them as a means of bringing us to Teshuva, all we see, to the extent that we trouble ourselves to look, is missiles and the wickedness of the Arabs that rain them down on our heads. 

Rather than see a wake up call, we see a routine, or more accurately we succumb to a routine much akin to garbage collection or bread delivery.

And now, of course, we're talking knives, meat cleavers and whatever else may be readily pulled out of a kitchen draw.  It's the same wake up call and over and above the Teshuva that is always required of us, it calls for an additional response nuanced to the circumstances.

Rabbi Daniel Travis tells us that the only aitza in dealing, on a somewhat pain free basis, with the Chevlei Moshiach that we are experiencing is by means of Talmud Torah and Gemillas Chasodim. 

Talmud Torah we understand, but what about Gemillas Chasodim in this context?   He lets us hear that our interaction with other people is very important and that a person should do whatever he can for others.

The most important form of doing for others is, of course, davening and reciting Tehillim.  It's the ruchniyas equivalent of using laser guided munitions.

But in these times it's not enough.  We should also think about them.

Davening and Tehillim speak to the amelioration of the situation on the ground but it doesn't necessarily connect us to it.  This is a big speed bump because a person should think more about yenem than himself,  and yet, when we hear about a tragedy how much do we think about the other person?

Rabbi Avi Wiesenfeld asks this very question on a much less pareve decibel level:

People hear about what's going on and it's terrible.  A couple of minutes later it's "pass the chips please."

It affected you?  It did something to you?  How can you hear that a man who was standing by a bus stop on the way to learning this morning is no longer among the living?  How can you hear that and it doesn't affect you?  How can you hear that  and say, "you know, these things happen," and then go back to breakfast or lunch?

How can it not have an affect on you?

At the very least, our love for a Jew who was attacked r"l, should be no less intense than the hatred of the Arab that wielded the knife