Blossoming almond trees in Israel
Blossoming almond trees in IsraelFlash 90

Dedicated in heartache to the blessed memory of our brave and beloved soldiers.

“Yehi zichram baruch” May Divine comfort be upon those who love them, for that love is eternal. “May God comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem”

“As for me, I said in my haste; ‘I am cut off from before Thine eyes’, nevertheless Thou heard the voice of my supplications when I cried unto Thee.” (Psalms 31:23)

“Be strong and let your heart take courage, all who hope in the Lord…” (Psalms 31:25)

And I have returned, to the white clouds of silence. The place of agony and horror which was such a part of our lives, growing up in the shadow of my father’s experiences as a Holocaust survivor. The white clouds of refuge, which blur memories, emotions, pain but also joy, and leave but a vague numbness.

We do not ask why, for there is no answer. We do not ask who, for we know, or perhaps we do not know. Once again, ghosts of desolation flit in and out of a half-open window, their grayness merging into the blackness of night. Their presence expelled by the breaking dawn

I discovered a few days ago, in a conversation with my sister, that actually, my father(z”l) was the sole survivor of sixty members of his family. The names never mentioned in all my years of life with my father, revealed only now when my sister sent me a list of those for whom he said Kaddish on Yom Hashoah. And I read the names now, almost a century later.

What was the anguish which would prevent a father from telling his family of the aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law…vanished, into the silence. Into the white cloud in which there is no memory, there is no knowledge, there is no grief.

My father once wrote a poem. I no longer have it, but the essence lingers in memory.

“…and a feeling comes over me which resembles pain

in the same way that drizzle resembles the rain.”

But now, perhaps, I am beginning to understand. Now, when our days are imbued with heartache and grief, the unceasing presence of pain, the sinister touch of evil. Memory and feelings covered by a cloud of whiteness which threatens to overtake both joy and sorrow in the blurring of today with yesterday. In the blurring of hope. Of joy with shock.

I struggle to remember. We have only the strength which we can sustain, the faith which will give us hope, the wisdom of generations before us, which have undergone suffering, and yet, retained their faith.

Faith in man, faith in God, faith in the day when clouds will be replaced once again by color, by peace and joy.

On that day, will His Name be One, and we also, will be One.

One in our happiness, one in our joy, blessed with life in its simple tranquillity.

Again, I am in a garden. Here, there is a whisper of serenity. White roses are poking their heads out tentatively from the stalks among which they were hiding. A pink rose struggles to be seen, glistening in the morning dew, petals opening up to the sky from her perch on a branch high above. She has somehow managed to climb quite high, in my absence.

Once again, a white butterfly is fluttering about the lovely green bushes… Now another one appears, and together they are performing the dance of life, flitting among the lush foliage which has sprung up while I was gone.

And I watch. A part of the scene, and yet distant from it. As an observer, trying to reconnect my soul with the rhythm of life, of purity, of sanctity. With the song of the birds, whose call of hope and joy is so clearly heard in the serene silence by which I am surrounded.

As a magnet, we are pulled towards Life, towards the destiny of our Nation, which is to flourish. Towards the destiny of our people, which is to survive, to proclaim our faith and hope, despite. Despite the darkness, which we know will soon be lifted, as it is written:

“…One calls to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning comes, and also the night. If you will inquire, inquire; return, come.” (Isaiah 21:11-12)

It will soon be Tu B’Shvat. We will plant seeds of a future. Seeds of hope, the whisper of days to come. With the planting, we will plant as well a dream for our Land, for our Nation, which one day will flourish in joy, in growth, in serenity. The seeds of a time to come when life will be different.

The Talmud tells the story of the righteous man Hori, who was journeying on the road and saw an elderly man planting a carob tree…The elder replied, “I myself found many fully grown carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted for me so am I planting for my children and grandchildren.”

The past swirls into the present. White clouds of disbelief blur our reality, hues of gray blur our vision. Immeasurable love swirls incomprehensibly with immeasurable pain.

Yitgadal v’yitkadash sh’mei raba.

And praised (Fanny) be His Name. And praised (Gittel) be His Name. And praised (Henya) be His Name. And praised (Leon) be His Name…

There is a voice which cries out today, as centuries before “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?…I call out by day and You do not answer, and at night I do not keep silent” (Psalms 22:2)

And yet, the Psalm continues, ”Our ancestors trusted in You; they trusted and You delivered them” (Psalms 22:5)

We will continue to plant, as did our fathers before us. In spite of our destiny, or perhaps because of it. We will continue to dream, our tears blending into the rain with which our future is nourished.

We will rise. Our faces turned towards the sun, as the pink rose climbing higher. And we, as our ancestors before us, will plant the seeds of hope and faith from which one day, God-willing, joy and everlasting peace will sprout.

As it is written in this week’s Parasha “In Your loving kindness You led the people You redeemed.

You guided them in Your strength to Your holy abode” (Exodus 15:13)

“You shall bring them and plant them on the mount of Your heritage…the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The Lord shall reign to all eternity” (Exodus 15: 17-18)

May that day arrive speedily, in its time.