“At times things around us seem so perfectly clear. At other times nothing makes sense,” paraphrasing Rabbi Moshe Kempinski on Arutz Sheva.
"The senseless murder of children and other innocents at the hands of rockets sent by an entity sworn to annihilate our people shake our sense of comfort and security. Spurious lies and disconnected half-truths spread by "legitimate" news agencies in the world with no possibility of retort or defense leave us frustrated and demoralized.
“Yet perhaps we need to consider that all this is the confusion and haze that always precedes the next dramatic step in the walk into destiny."
Hashem seems to have a habit of dealing from the confusion of a cloud, haze or thick darkness. On Har Sinai “The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud, עֲרָפֶל, where G-d was..(Ex 20:18)
When we “came forward and stood at the foot of the mountain, the mountain was ablaze with flames to the very skies, dark with arafel, densest clouds. The L-rd spoke to you out of the fire; you heard the sound of words but perceived no shape—nothing but a voice.” (Deut 4:11)
“The Lord spoke those words (Aseret Hadibrot) —those and no more—to your whole congregation at the mountain, with a mighty voice out of the fire and the arafel, dense clouds. (Deut 5:19)
King Solomon declared: “The L-rd has chosen to abide in a thick cloud, arafel. I have now built for you a stately House, a place where You may dwell forever.” (1 Kings 8:12)
As Moshe Rabbeinu wrote, “It has been clearly demonstrated to you that the Lord alone is G-d; there is none beside Him. From the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; on earth He let you see His great fire; and from amidst that fire you heard His words. (Deut 4:35)
From Hevron 1929 to Eretz 1948 to 1967 to 1973 to Munich 1972 to Entebbe 1976 to Sbarro 2001 to Mercaz HaRav 2008 to Itamar 2011 to Gilad, Eyal and Naftali 2014 to Hamas last week, thick clouds have darkened our spirits as we prayed to Hashem for His shalom in our nation. Multiple incidents have shaken “our sense of comfort and security” and “leave us frustrated and demoralized.”
From the arafel, from the confusion and haze, can we not “see” a clear path forward? Just as we “saw” at Har Sinai the kol within the cloud, can we not listen and see direction for our future? Are we too occupied with selfish desires, with egotistical attitudes, with political concerns, to learn the lessons that Hashem taught us? Are we too stiff necked to listen and see?
Ezekiel promised “As a shepherd seeks out his flock when some [animals] in his flock have gotten separated, so I will seek out My flock, I will rescue them from all the places to which they were scattered on a day of cloud and arafel, gloom. I will take them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them to their own land, and will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses and in all the settled portions of the land. I will feed them in good grazing land, and the lofty hills of Israel shall be their pasture. There, in the hills of Israel, they shall lie down in a good pasture and shall feed on rich grazing land.” (34:12)
We see daily fulfillment of that prophecy, via aliyah, our agriculture, our commerce, our medical advances, . . . -- all further evidence of His truth. Dare we be foolish by not implicitly trusting Him? Trust is the foundation on which we build highways out of our arafel.
Can we hear and see evidence from our current arafel that causes us to remember that Yerushalayim was built as a city “bound together,” of unity, “binding one Jew to another.” (Bava Kama 7:7) “For there the tribes ascended, the tribes of G-d, as a testimony for Israel.” (Psalm 122) Can the current parties, the politicians, not follow King David’s desire for unity, that the nation go up as one to Jerusalem?
A major, major source of the arafel that darkens our days is the lack of sovereignty over the entire land we were promised, so we can properly deal with the flotsam within it.
Just as Elijah experienced, to step out of our haze and confusion, we must listen carefully to the voice coming from our arafel, קֹ֖ול דְמָמָ֥ה דַקָֽה, kol demama daka, “a soft murmuring sound,” a voice one can hear only if he listens well.
Can we listen well enough to the voice from our arafel to realize that we are a Jewish nation, with full rights to the land promised to Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaacov. Full sovereignty is His gift to us, but we must reach out our hand to receive the bequest. Regardless of what the nations may argue, the Sovereign of the Universe has spoken. Dare we deny His words?
We are a unique people, yes, a chosen people, chosen to be a witness to the nations. “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.” (Isa 43:12) From modern re-inception to today our economics, morality, medicine, engineering, military and leadership of the Middle East has continuously developed as witness to His Name. May our next step continue to demonstrate that witness.
The world and history have seen our witness to His Name. We stand up for our rights, but when we must defend ourselves, we fight even more morally than Torah requires.
Our demonstrated strength has been increasingly exercised of late. Covid advances, military successes, diplomatic advances, refusal to allow others to call the shots: we have many reasons to step out of the arafel, the cloud of confusion and haze into a bright future. We have no need to kowtow to any person, organization, people or nation on the earth.
The time to step out of the cloud is now. Success continues to be ours, in many ways. We have the wind to our backs. May we continue to assert ourselves, regardless of the nations. “Greater Jerusalem” (https://tinyurl.com/3e427999) to include the outskirts -- East, South, West and North! Sovereignty now!
Speaking of our most famous leader, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks ז''ל repeatedly and eloquently pointed out, “To lead is to serve; The highest accolade Moses ever received was to be called “eved Hashem” – “God’s servant” – and there is no higher honor.”
“Now Moses was a very humble man, ... עַבְדִ֣י מֹשֶ֑ה, My servant Moses.” (Num 12:7) Many of our current officials, would-be leaders and politicians seem to have forgotten that they serve us, Am Yisrael, and not vice versa. Truly servant leaders have the opportunity in this day to step up and be elevated in the minds and votes of this nation. Ego must be counterbalanced well by humility, the desire to serve.
Time to step out of the cloud and into a new world of honesty, of patriotism, of real leadership, of unity across the board. Officials, do you hear? Will you step out of the arafel so you can see? Leaders, do you hear? Will you step out of the cloud? Politicians, do you hear? Will you step out and lead for the good of the nation?
Prof. Jerry R. Lambert, Engineer and Contractor, is Professor Emeritus, Clemson University in South Carolina, and a fan of Oz veGaon. He builds energy efficient homes, blogs JawingJerry, and grows Muscadine grapes for wine.