|I hope I'm presenting a real gem today! Credit|
The day after Tzom Asarah b'Tevet (the sunup-to-sundown fast of the 10th of Tevet) I listened to a video (see below) by Rav Alon Anava, "The Secret to Bring Mashiach," and I found a gem in there even he might not have anticipated: The main thing we as a people must do to: 1) make teshuva appropriate to that fast and 2) create unity among the people. Many thanks to Shirat Devorah for posting it first (as far as I know).
R' Anava laid it out clearly enough at the personal level (starting at 21:10 minutes in), but that was enough of a hint that, generalizing a specific point, made a lot of sense to this Israelit. What I derived is:
We, the Jewish People, must stop being envious of the nations of the world over the fact that they have more freedoms, less responsibility and fewer obligations in this life than we do; instead, we must be actively happy for their material success. Then, we must go on with our national life and mission according to Torah.
If you think this is too elementary and well-known, you need read no further. It will only bore you. The rest may continue.
On the personal level he said that I need to stop being envious over my friend's husband's income-earning ability, her house, children, job, clothing...whatever, and actually l'fargen her (to actively be happy for her success and possessions, from Yiddish — I'm applying what he said to myself, not quoting the Rav.). But I realized that the reason we are stuck with the lousy government we have in Israel, that favors the Gentiles (Muslims and Christians alike) among us over us Jews — among many, many other things — is because we ourselves as a people have a giant root of envy that even affects the best tzaddikim and tzaddikayot among us, even if they have conquered it; and it is an Erev Rav trait that connects us to the evil people and deeds among the nations in a negative way, causing us to have all kinds of mixed feelings about them, obsess endlessly over what they think of us and even be brought all-too-close to the suffering we wish were not ours to bear. We wish we were not always obligated to pray three times a day, study Torah, make aliyah to a land we must work on in order to make it grow (not to mention have tiny apartments for outrageous prices while Arabs build entire mansions freely even though it's supposedly illegal...and so on), being picked on and sought out for genocide...and it could go on forever! We should l'fargen them and then go on with our mission.
We all must do our part to conquer it, from the greatest to the least religious among us...any Jew who thinks it has nothing to do with him or her.
I remember reading an article (sorry, can't find a link to it) some years ago featuring a yeshiva student who had found out that he was not a Jew after all. It was his decision to stay and become a Jew or leave and live out the rest of his life as a non-Jew. He decided the latter. All the rest of the class looked at him with obvious enough envy that the moreh was prompted to take a raised-hand vote as to how many would follow after him if they could. Every hand was raised.
That teacher realized, right then, that something was very wrong with Jewish education.
On a personal level, I myself am a big ba'alath kin'ah, my first awareness of it being when I was about 5 or 6 years old, watching Romper Room on TV (yes, I know I'm dating myself...) and hearing the names of children being read out over the air: I wanted to be one of them. And, how I wanted to look through that magic mirror!
I also underwent experiences that not many other children see, which I envied others for not having had. Don't try to guess what they were; I will not share them at this time, and I have also been spared some of the very worst a young girl can go through; so, for that, I am thankful: The main point is that I recognize envy in myself and what it did and does to me, and can see the connection between the desire for the love and respect of the nations and my own wish to be like other children (and now, women) around me. Not having been raised in an observant home, I was not aware of Judaism as I am today, so the anti-Semitism I found as a child was totally inexplicable; and I wanted so badly NOT to be a Jew because of it. It took me many years to fully understand why I should thank G-d for making me a Jew!
The main takeaway today is: Even, and especially, the most precious, beautiful jewel requires careful and skillful cutting and polishing. Take too much off, and it won't be so precious or unusually beautiful; take too little off and you won't see its brilliance or appreciate its color spectrum. It could also be that our eyes are insufficient, may G-d help us, to completely appreciate a perfectly beautiful stone!
I'm adding the two shiurim from R' Sprecher that I attended on Asarah b'Tevet as well as R' Anava's video. Maybe one of my readers or fellow bloggers will garner for him/herself a gem like this one!
May we finally, finally, FINALLY merit to receive Mashiach, annihilate Amalek and see the Beit haMiqdash this year, speedily and in our days! Amen!!!