December 16, 2014

Swords Into Plowshares

Tonight, as darkness cloaked Eretz Israel, we lit the first candle of Chanukah. The wicks, floating in vials of olive oil, flickered as they brought light into the night. This is symbolic of the Jewish people; our mission is to light up a dark world.

Our contemporary world is cloaked in a very thick black cloth, where many try to deflect our light into darkness with lies, hatred and acts of terror. Despite these threats, dangers and bloody acts, the enemies still do not understand that our very DNA instructs us to create, invent and give. Despite all. For this is our essence.

One recent tragedy was the massacre of five innocent men in Har Nof, including four rabbis who were slaughtered while in the midst of prayer, draped in tefillin and tallit. These innocent, unarmed civilians and one policeman were murdered in cold blood with butchers' knives and guns.

Their widows and orphans did not cry for revenge or for more spilled blood. They did not riot in the streets or spew hatred. They did not insist on more bloodshed to avenge their deep loss and their spiritual leaders did not call for destruction. 

These widows and orphans cried. They buried their loved ones and beseeched the world to bring in light to elevate the souls of their lost husbands, fathers and grandfathers--to help redeem us from darkness. The community spoke wise words of Torah to counter this evil while the families issued a letter calling for solidarity, love and peace. Here is what they said:

With broken hearts, drenched in tears shed over the spilt blood of holy men – the heads of our families. We call on our brethren wherever they are – let us come together so that we may merit mercy from Heaven, and let’s accept upon ourselves to increase love and comradery, between each individual and each community.
We ask that every person accept upon himself on this Sabbath Eve (Parshat Toldot, November 21-22, 2014), to set aside the day of Shabbat as a day of unconditional love, a day during which we will refrain from words of disagreement and division, from words of gossip and slander.
May this serve to elevate the souls of our husbands and fathers who were slaughtered while sanctifying God’s name. God will look down from the heavens, see our suffering, wipe away our tears and put an end to our tribulations.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Moshiach (Messiah) speedily in our days. Amen.
Signed with a torn heart,
Mrs. Chaya Levin and family
Mrs. Bryna Goldberg and family
Mrs. Yaacova Kupensky and family
Mrs. Bashy Twersky and family
In focusing on a world of unconditional love, peace and truth, these families flooded the world with light.
To elevate our celebration of the Jewish Festival of Lights this year, one creative metal sculptor decided to carve hannukiahs out of rockets. Shrapnel from fallen Kassams that terrorized Israeli civilians, evil shards from rockets that crashed into Israeli children’s bedrooms, caved in kindergartens and terrorized busy roads, were used by artist Yaron Bob to turn instruments of death into vehicles of light.
Etched into the menorahs are the words ‘beat their swords into plowshares.’ These meaningful words are from the Book of Yeshayahu (chapter 2, verse 4):
And he shall judge between the nations and reprove many peoples, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Called Rockets into Roses, Israel is once again showing the world light, transforming death and darkness into beauty, meaning, hope and peace.  To complete his mission of hopefulness, this artist is donating a portion of the sales to building portable bomb shelters in the south of Israel.

This mindset is natural to the Jewish people and reminds me of the selfless words of Racheli Fraenkel whose son Naftali was murdered by terrorists last June. She does not speak of bitterness and hatred, rather she focuses on unity and dignity.

The more darkness tries to gain a foothold in Israel, the harder we push back with light. This is our mission and we take it seriously. 
So when we light our menorahs over the next seven days of Chanukah, we should express thanks for the many miracles G-d has sent us and endeavor to bring an abundance of light into a seemingly dim, bleak world. 

Let us pray that nation shall not lift the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’

Hannukah Sameach

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