“Creator of the world. Please, I love you. I’m in love with you. Please don’t disappoint me. I love you.”
These loving, pleading words came from Margalit Megidish as she prayed for her daughter, Ori, whom Hamas took hostage. Ori Megidish is a soldier who served on a base near Gaza that was overrun on October 7 by Hamas. Hamas slaughtered many of her friends and took her and several others as hostages to Gaza. A short while after her mother’s prayer, Ori was rescued by the IDF in a complex daring raid.
Many wondered how Margalit could say, “I love you,” while her daughter was held hostage by the cruelest monsters on earth. Indeed, Margalit was in a dark pit of despair. Indeed, her tears flowed freely as she prayed, her heart torn asunder. But amid her prayers, the words “I love you” tumbled out. In this time of deep darkness, how could she love G-d? Did her pain addle her brain? Is she naïve and simplistic?
Speaking at a Knesset committee hearing, Knesset member Galit Atabrian said the following:
“I tell you that the moment she said those words, I was jealous. I envied her unfathomable depth of faith. This is not simplistic. It is spirituality at its highest. Lofty, powerful, and sophisticated. I believe that people who devote their entire lives to spiritual association don’t scratch the surface upon which Margalit stood at that moment. She grasped the profundity of Divine providence. That G-d is always good. Even when you walk in the valley of the shadow of death, fear no evil, for G-d is with you.”
There is a magnificent metaphysical truth within which everything is good. Even a mother in a dark well of despair—a mother worried about her baby in the hands of depraved predators—even then, she understands deep in her heart that it is a Divine overarching good that we are presently unable to perceive. I say to Margalit, this righteous mother, you are my hero, you are my example, and you are my role model. Continue to pray, Margalit, for all the other hostages. You have a direct line to G-d.”
When she completed her thoughts, the chair of the hearing observed, “Galit, you strengthened me.”
This story leaves us wondering: How can we love G-d amid distress and despair when we are beset by worry and sorrow?
Two Days, Two Forms of Kindness
The Torah tells us that Abraham was old; he arrived [to old age], his days [intact]. This passage has many layers of meaning, and we examine one of them. The Torah says his days were intact without telling us how many days. This is because the Torah is not talking about a number of days. The Torah is talking about two kinds of days. Good days and bad days.
It is natural for people to be thrilled when everything goes well. But it is not common for people to feel thrilled when life turns dark, and everything we cherish is taken from us. Abraham had good days, like the day his son was born, and bad days, like the day G-d instructed him to slaughter his son. Yet, for Abraham, both days were identical. He was joyous and passionately in love with G-d.
King David taught us the secret when he wrote, “The wise . . . ponder G-d’s kindnesses.” The proper phrase here would be kindness, not kindnesses, in plural. But King David was teaching us a profound lesson.
There are two types of kindness: revealed and concealed. Both are kind; one is visible to the mortal eye, and the other is beyond perception. When something happens that is profoundly harsh, the wise person peers through the veil and remembers that everything G-d does is good. It is a kindness that we cannot perceive. And for that, for treating us with such profound kindness, infinite orders of magnitude beyond our perception, we are grateful. Like Margalit, we burst out in a spontaneous, “I love you, G-d.”
Darkness to Light
I cannot tell you why Orit Megidish was liberated while others are still in captivity. I cannot tell you why so many people survived the horrific terrorist attack on October 7 and so many did not. Who am I to speak of such things? Only G-d can tell us that. However, the inspiring, uplifting story of Orit and her mother can empower us and give us hope. It can teach us that there is something we can do to help our soldiers and hostages in distress.
Our sages taught that righteous people transform G-d’s severe judgment into Divine acts of compassion. They do this by shifting the framework through which they perceive the judgment. Rather than seeing it as harsh, they view it as kind. So kind as to be beyond our ability to see. They believe that there is a deep, complex calculus beyond the human grasp that leads to the ironclad conclusion that all is good.
When righteous people perceive judgment as compassion, the judgment becomes compassion. The negative turns positive, and relief follows, as it did for Margalit when her daughter came home. When tested, G-d wants us to peer through the veil and trust that it comes from love. When we accept His love and respond with a sincere “I love you too,” we pass the test. There is no further reason to test us.
Jewish mystics taught that the lower world, our world, receives everything from the supernal world. However, we only receive what we put forth. If we are joyous with bright faces, brightness shines down on us from above. In this sense, it is up to us.
Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, often reminded his students that “G-d is your shadow.” Our shadow mimics our movements. When we move to the right, our shadow follows. When we move to the left, so does our shadow. G-d gives us what we give him. If we put forth happiness, optimism, trust, and positive energy, we receive it in return. We provoke the response.
When the wheel of fortune turns, G-d does not change His mind. He merely shows us that we were right all along. It was good, precisely as we believed it to be; only now, He allows us to see it. As the Baal Shem Tov taught, tzarah, Hebrew for distress, and tzohar, Hebrew for window, are the same word. What we think is distressful can become a window into G-d’s concealed kindness. “It is a time of distress for Jacob, and from it, he will be saved.” From it, from the distress itself, comes the salvation.
When we believe and love with every fiber of our hearts, as Margalit did, the tzarah becomes our salvation. From it and through it, we are saved.
At this time, as our soldiers face danger in battle and our hostages in captivity, may G-d shower us with blessing. May we find our inner well of faith and say to G-d, “I love you too.” May the soldiers and hostages come home safe and sound, and may our nation finally live in peace.