Rabbi Hagai Lundin
Rabbi Hagai LundinCourtesy

We are now in the middle of four wonderful days: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are behind us, Sukkot is ahead of us. According to our Sages, these four days are free of iniquity; the "counting of transgressions" begins with Sukkot: "'You shall take for you on the first day' (Leviticus 23, 40) – is it really the first day [of the month]?

Isn't it the fifteenth day [of Tishrei], so why is it referred to as the first day? Because it is the first day for counting of offenses." Naturally, the effect of being in synagogue during the Ten Days of Repentance resonates in the soul and prevents iniquities and being down.

Part of staying in a state of exhilaration is not to get emotional about the background noises which try to get us down. Let's summarize a little of the good that has happened in the State of Israel over the past forty days:

From the beginning of the month of Elul, around three million Israelis visited the Western Wall; in fact, there was no room at the Western Wall plaza, so Selichot was screened on giant screens in various locations; tens of thousands of inspiring classes were given across the country; synagogues held millions for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, including minyanim in kibbutzim, community centers and city centers; there was a thirteen percent increase in students in yeshivas and midrashot (Torah institutes for women); in addition, every second child in the Jewish sector who started first grade in the 2023-2024 school year wears a kippah.

What does the evil inclination do? It wants us to be alarmed by the few dozen megaphones that the media is trying to leverage to ruin the atmosphere. Don't let it! This gives the feeling that the majority is Jew-hating; they aren't!

How to deal practically with these strange people is a topic in itself, but first of all it is important to internalize that they are a minority. Last Saturday night I was at Selichot at the Western Wall with two hundred thousand people, more than any of Kaplan's demonstrators or readers of Haaretz throughout the generations.

Do not give in to the hateful people and do not let them dictate your mood. They belong to the past; we face the future, to the festival of Sukkot in which we "rejoice in all the good that the Lord [y]our God has given" us (Deuteronomy 26, 11).