By Anna Frieman, senior, Scheck Hillel Community School
Sholem was the kid who always had a smile on his face, who never complained, who was an emblem of love, gratitude, and Jewish pride.
One time I asked him why he wore a Kippah, and his answer was so simple but so beautiful. “Because I’m Jewish,” he said. That was it. That was all Sholem needed. He understood what it meant to do things lishmah – for the sake of heaven – and to do them with pride. He wore the kippah happily, and despite the pain of being different and getting picked on it was worth it because he did it Lishmah – for God.
And, now, in this incredibly dark time in our lives, it’s both easier and harder to do things for God. It’s easier in that everyone is doing it. In the merit of the aliyas haneshama of Sholem Dovber Ben Iosef Z’L, there’s hundreds of people turning towards Torah in a way our community has really never seen.
There’s this level of motivation and inspiration that’s making us all rise to new heights. Sholem’s fire is lighting us up. But, I think deep down, it’s so much harder now than ever before to really really do things for God, because now, our faith is lacking. We all find ourselves asking why? Why did this happen? How could something so awful happen to someone so amazing? No-one knows.
But I found comfort in Rabbi Akiva’s take on this week’s Parsha, Parshat Emor. Rabbi Akiva says that the great miracle of Sukkot was not the Clouds of Glory that protected the Jews through the blazing desert, but the miracle of the continued emunah of Jewish people. No matter how much we complained, Am Israel did not stray. We kept going, kept following, kept venturing forwards on the journey into the unknown.
So, clearly, if this is the miracle, then true faith is not knowing with certainty. Faith is having the courage to live with uncertainty. And to still turn to God for everything and bang on His door. Life isn’t easy. Our journey is full of pain and mystery. But, the Jewish people were built to embrace the unknown.
I’m a firm believer that suffering does not have a rightful place in our world. It was not part of the original plan for creation and was introduced only after Adam’s sin. So, I also hold that part of the mission of the Jewish people is to eliminate suffering. It is to rise to the call, to bang on Heavens door, and to demand mercy in justice just as Abraham did with Sodom and Moshe did after the Golden calf.
Vaychal Moshe – Moshe pleaded, the Torah says. Our mission is to plead with Hashem for a better world. It is to fight for Mashiach to bring that world. It is to become people worthy of living in this world. Right now, everyone is making pledges and taking on things in Sholem’s merit, and it’s amazing. And, the Gemara says that the women of the generation redeemed the Jews during Yetziat Mitzrayim, which means that the women now – in what could be the last generation before Mashiach – hold our redemption in our hands.
So, let’s emulate Sholem’s faith and turn his fight – the fight of Klal Yisroel – into our fight too. We’ve all shed too many tears, but now is the time to cry a few more, to bang on God’s door, to unlock the gates of Heaven, to demand a better tomorrow, and to work on ourselves endlessly to be the women who merit the arrival of Mashiach.
Let us fight to do things lishmah for Hashem. Let us fight to reach new heights in our growth and Torah. Let us fight to bring Mashiach Tzidkeinu and to all finally be together again. For Sholem