And Never Again Will I Destroy All Living Things
We have gone through so many difficult things, felt the pain, and cried... but we get used to it and accept it as reality. NO! We are going to wake up and call out to Hashem and beg for the complete, merciful geula. Rabbi Arush explains.
Translated from Rabbi Arush’s feature article in the weekly Chut shel Chessed newsletter. The articles focus on his main message: “Loving others as yourself” and emuna.
Our Brothers’ Blood Cries Out
Dear Jews, my dear brothers and sisters, what can we say? It is impossible to grasp, to accept the immense disaster that we have all witnessed. There is no doubt that this is the most difficult situation that the Jewish people have been in since the terrible Holocaust.
The blood of our holy brothers and sisters is “crying out to us from the land.” Men, women and children, including babies; old and young. The tremendous pain of the widows and orphans, the tremendous pain of parents who have lost their children; the pain and distress of those injured in body and in soul. The distress of the residents of the south; the fear throughout the Holy Land, and the distress of the Holy Land itself – all these are disturbing our peace of mind.
We haven’t the slightest doubt that all those martyrs who died al kiddush Hashem – sanctifying Hashem’s Name – are all going straight to Gan Eden and are in the best place possible, and no one can stand in their presence. Our hearts are with the families and with the wounded and the captives and the missing, who are suffering indescribably.
May Hashem send His holy agents and heal them and save them and return everyone to their home in peace and protect all the residents of the area around Gaza and the south, together with all our soldiers and security personnel that are endangering their lives in this campaign, and all Jews who are in Israel, for we are all in great danger.
And we who have survived must ask ourselves what we should improve in our conduct; Why did Hashem do this to us? Why was He so angry? And indeed, many people are asking me how to improve themselves as we face this difficult situation.
We have no prophets today, so nobody knows for sure. But it is our obligation to search for messages, as the Rambam rules: “And this thing is from the ways of teshuva, that when a trouble comes upon them, and they will cry out about it, all will know that it is because of their bad deeds that bad things have happened to them, as it says, ‘Your sins have overturned etc.’ and that is what will cause the trouble to be removed from them.”
I wish to contribute the insights that Hashem has granted me so that all of us will be able to strengthen ourselves and rise from the crisis with greater faith and greater strength.
Message #1: Strengthen our thanks to Hashem!
This last calamity has demonstrated to us in the cruelest and most painful way that we are living among millions of bloodthirsty, Jew-hating beasts who take pride in their cruelty; we are like a lone sheep surrounded by seventy wolves. And it is precisely this terrible disaster that proves that our very existence here for the past decades is all a miracle and a wonder. Daily miracles. And not only down south, but in every spot in the Holy Land.
We must do teshuva for all those years when we didn’t know to appreciate and thank Hashem for every day of quiet and security, and we should begin to thank Hashem truly and wholeheartedly for our very lives.
Noach comes out of the ark after the terrible destruction of all of humanity and all creatures and brings burnt offerings. Hashem smells the fragrance and promises to never again curse man. Noach’s burnt offerings remove Hashem’s anger.
These burnt offerings represent gratitude, because the burnt offering is offered up to Hashem in its entirety, and there is nothing of it that is given to the man himself. So too are thanks given to Hashem. Unlike prayer where you ask for things for yourself, thanks are all for Hashem.
And just like Noach’s burnt offering stopped the curse, so too our daily thanks to Hashem for every breath of air, understanding that nothing is to be taken for granted – that is what will remove from us this curse, because what we have gone through cannot be described other than as a curse and a harsh decree, and thanking Hashem will sweeten the dinim (strict justice) and will stop the plague.
Message #2: Yisrael, betach (trust in) baShem, and only in Him
The slap in the face that we have received calls out to us: “If Hashem does not guard a city, the guard keeps watch in vain.” A primitive group of lowlifes manages to fool the most advanced technology and paralyze the strongest army – this only shows us the truth and reality: There is nothing in this world in which one can trust, except in Hashem yitbarach.
Dear Jews, it is an existential danger for the Jewish people to trust in “my power, the strength of my own hand”. Woe to us if we don’t understand that only Hashem is the source of power that protects Yisrael, no other. At this time, it is forbidden to place our trust in America and the rest of the world, not to mention in our own power and the strength of our hand. No one can help the Jewish People really, because the Jewish People need a complete geula (redemption) and full da’at (knowledge and understanding) – and only Hashem yitbarach can grant us that! And therefore, our eyes should be turning to Him only, and only in Him we should trust; only on him do we depend. Only Him.
There is no doubt that the more we trust in Hashem and not in any other power, we will be bringing upon ourselves not only victory in war, but also the complete geula and yeshua (salvation).
Included in trusting in Hashem is not to be afraid. Because fear is the opposite of trust. That is the famous and awesome segula of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin, who promised that someone who instills in his heart that there is no one except Him, and that there is no force in the world that can cause harm or do good except Hashem – will certainly be protected from any danger.
There are amazing stories about Jews who even in the Holocaust followed this directive and experienced miracles. Rabbi Yehuda Ze’ev Leibowitz who survived the Holocaust, tells that in impossible, frightening moments he told the Jews around him: Don’t be afraid, and you will be saved. And indeed, those who heard and strengthened themselves in complete faith – were saved!
These two insights can be summed up in the words of a short passuk, which is also a segula for protection: “To Hashem is the salvation, Your blessing is upon your nation, sela.” Salvation is only from Hashem, and our role is only to thank Him and bless Him.
Message #3: Simply call out to Hashem!
We have gone through so many difficult things. We have felt the pain and have cried, but we have gotten used to it. We have accepted reality. We have gone on with life. but such a shock must awaken us and make us decide that things are going to change. We want to switch tracks in our brains: We are going to wake up and call out to Hashem and ask for the complete geula, a merciful geula, a geula now. From now on, we will not stop praying for the geula of the Jewish People. Praying from the depths of our hearts that we will never see such sights again.
This is the time to put an end to the exile. People are saying that we must destroy Gaza. Is it Gaza that needs destroying? It is the cursed galut (exile) that must be done away with. We don’t want just an end to terrorists; rather, we want an end to all our problems!
People, think: Now it’s something different. Now we can’t go back to routine. That is a mistake. Just like we returned to our routines after every disaster, with this traumatic disaster too, we will get back into routine, unless we wake up on our own. Unless we decide that things are going to change – we will miss this heaven-sent opportunity. And this is an opportunity for geula, because it says, “It is a time of troubles for Yaakov – and from it he will achieve salvation.”
The main claim against Noach was why he didn’t pray for the people of his generation. The entire Flood is named after him – it is called “the waters of Noach” – because he didn’t pray. This is our role and job now, and from now on, until the complete geula comes.
Dear Jews, each and every one of us tips the scales. Every prayer and every psalm are very important in Heaven. Every hitbodedut, every sigh. This is the time to increase the merits for the Jewish people. This is the time to increase dissemination of Rabbi Nachman’s teachings. We believe Rabbi Nachman who said that wherever his book will be, there will be no fire. This is the time to distribute the book of Likutei Moharan to every Jewish home, and mainly among our soldiers in the front, and we have already seen great miracles come from this act.
One of our students gave his friend Likutei Moharan and pleaded with him: Just have it in your home. And the friend now says that a missile fell in his neighborhood and all the houses around his were badly damaged, but in his house, not even a cup moved.
Ribbono Shel Olam, in the merit of the tzaddikim and in the merit of all the murdered and massacred victims, and those who went through fire and water to sanctify Your Name, declare an end to our troubles! An end to our galut!