Inconsolable Hope

How can we move on? How can we accept the unacceptable? Are we to be condemned to a state of perpetual mourning and incessant mistakes?

Ellen W. Horowitz

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"All of his sons and all of his daughters tried to console him, but he refused to be comforted." (Genesis 37:35)

It is beyond heartache or heartbreak. There's this constant gnawing feeling with little or no reprieve.

Can you put your finger on it? There was the pure pain of watching productive, G-d-fearing families and communities uprooted from their land and torn from their homes.

There was the utter frustration, humiliation and regret of having taken an impotent or passive stance. There is the torment that goes hand-in-hand with seeing the immorality of it all - the pillaging by our enemies, the abuse and neglect from our brethren, and the absolute corruption, callousness and stupidity of our leaders. But these are the types of feelings that are universally felt by all good people when they bear witness to, or are victims of, gross injustice and betrayal.

For the Jew, it goes even further - especially at this time of year. We are supposed to be looking forward to a new year of hope and renewal. It is a time when we finish up old business, tie up loose ends and move forward. But there's a catch. Before we can enjoy the benefits of a clean slate, we're required to take an accounting of our past and present actions. And to take a good look at our mistakes.

But at present, there appears to be an utter lack of accountability in this world. And without a proper accounting, there can be no rectifying. For a Jew, this means that we risk losing our entire raison d'etre.

We are a people in limbo, and that's a dangerous place for a Jew to be.

But how can we move on? How can we accept the unacceptable? Are we to be condemned to a state of perpetual mourning and incessant mistakes?

Upon hearing the account of Yosef's death, the patriarch Yaakov was inconsolable. Our sages inform us that, subconsciously, Yaakov knew that Yosef must be alive, because in death there is no hope, and eventually the grieving process runs its course and leads to a sense of acceptance. But when someone goes missing, there is always a longing and a hope that they will return. And so - rightfully so - Yaakov refused to be comforted.

The uprooted Jewish communities in Gaza and Samaria are an inseparable part of us, and we will return to them and they will be returned to us. The former residents of those thriving neighborhoods may move into caravans, but don't expect them to move on. They most probably will create other thriving communities in Eretz Yisrael, but don't expect them, or the rest of us, to forget. And that's a good thing.

So, we struggle to take an agonizing accounting, and to try and recalibrate in a world of faulty measurements and tipped scales. Because we know that as soon as the proper corrections have been made, the pain and emptiness in our hearts will be alleviated.

But each year, the task becomes more difficult, as our situation deteriorates.

For the past several years, not only has our generation "stood by our brother's blood," but we ate pizza and drank cappuccino on it. In a show of deviant defiance, we opted to continue as "normal", rather than remove the butchers from our midst. And our leaders encouraged us and patently allowed the bloodletting of our citizens, rather than risk criticism from America and the rest of the international community.

Our nation can be brought to an abrupt halt over the issue of union wages, but where were the men and where was the rage when women and children were going up in smoke, and homes were being wrecked, and synagogues torched?

Is this the state of depravity that Shimon Peres intended when he coined the phrase "depth of the peace". How low can we go?

Perhaps, the question we need to be asking ourselves is: Do we love enough to hate? In other words, are we willing to accept the responsibility of nationhood and to protect our posterity, our heritage, and inheritance as we were commanded?

"You shall erase the memory of Amalek from beneath the heavens, you shall not forget."

Some people speak about the darkness before the dawn and they anxiously await sunrise. But something has to occur before that. I'm waiting for the stars to shine brightly - in the form of true leaders. I know that they're out there - they're just hidden. And when the outrage and the anguish becomes too much for them, they'll step forward in all of their brilliance.

I believe the source of the pain radiating from our hearts is a dream that refuses to die. So, for those of you who can still feel, be grateful for the anger and the tears, because without them there would be no hope, and with them comes redemption.

Shana Tova. Wishing all of Am Yisrael a year of healing and homes in a whole Eretz Yisrael.