Thursday, August 11, 2005


Musings #134
August 11, 2005
The 6th of Av

“Distinguishing Between Day and Night”

In Shacharit, the Morning Prayer service, there is a blessing we say that thanks G-d for giving us the intellectual ability to distinguish between “day and night.” This week I found myself wondering about what it means.

We are in gut-wrenching suspense. Will Disengagement be cancelled or not? Will the Arabs take advantage of the government’s weakness and attack? What other dangerous plans do Sharon, Olmert and Bush have up their sleeves? Will the State of Israel survive? How can we, how will we live through it?

How can we distinguish between good and bad, day and night?

Just like, “l’havdil,” to differentiate, we are all dying; we just don’t know how and when. “Geula,” Redemption and the Moshiach are approaching; we just don’t know when, though we certainly hope that today is sooner than yesterday.

Modern educational psychology stresses the different “intelligences.” Besides the classic Academic Intelligence, there are social, emotional, artistic, musical, sport etc. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to find the good in everything and not allow oneself to get depressed or feel hopeless or helpless.

Whatever situation we find ourselves in this coming week, we have to use it to our personal, spiritual and national betterment. No matter how horrendous things may be, we can’t let them paralyze ourselves into depressing inaction. And if G-d willing Disengagement is cancelled or postponed, that isn’t the end of the struggle.

Things are never how they seem. Remember that according to Judaism, the new day starts at nightfall. It neither starts at some man-proclaimed midnight nor with the first rays of the sun.

When still slaves in Egypt, it was during the Plague of Darkness we packed, and it was during the darkness of night when we escaped. According to Chaza”l, our sages, not all of the Jewish People left Egypt. Actually the majority stayed. They only saw the darkness, just like the Egyptians. A minority distinguished light in the darkness, and they were able to flee to be free.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Soon after leaving Egypt the Children of Israel formed a golden calf and worshipped it. For that we were punished. Then the majority of tribal representatives announced that it would be too impossible to conquer the people in the Promised Land. The majority of the Bnai Yisrael voted with the ten spies. For that we were forced to suffer forty years of wandering the desert until a new generation was ready to enter The Land. Yes, not everyone sees the light. As Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) repeats frequently in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), “ain chadash,” “nothing’s new.”

We’re still wandering, but we’re getting closer, G-d willing, but it’s up to us. We have to use our G-d given abilities to distinguish between day and night and see the light in the darkness.

May we Merit the Moshiach and Geula Shleimah B’mhairah B’Yameinu!

Batya Medad, Shiloh
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