A Strong Home Front
Military experts are rightfully concerned about the Home Front and are arming and fortifying border settlements. Likewise, we must fortify Jewish homes because true victory in the campaign only comes when the Shechina (Divine Presence) is with us.
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.
Dear holy and beloved Jews, giving and loving Jews: These words are being written to you during tumultuous days. We hope that by the time these words reach you, we will hear Besorot tovot, yeshu’ot venechamot (good tidings, salvations and consolations). But the only balm for the catastrophe that we have experienced is the complete Geula (Redemption). Please note that the ideas below are true for every time and situation in life, especially difficult ones.
In difficult times, in stormy times, when everything around us is going up in flames, we must teach ourselves to view reality in the correct way. Rabbi Nachman teaches us to always look for the good, even if it is very small thing, and even if the evil seems huge and threatening.
How much more so now, when the evil is indeed huge and scary – but on the other hand, the good that is being revealed to our eyes is enormous and unfathomable. Happy are the eyes that see the enormous ahavat Yisrael (love of other Jews), the devotion, the unending generosity, the thirst for emuna (faith) and kedusha (holiness) that has emerged from this. And then there is the achdut (unity); and the fact that we can thank Hashem for seeing the difference between Yishmael, the “wild donkey of a man” and Yisrael, who “are called humans.” Happy are the people for whom this is so!
And as we all see, the ramifications of the campaign we are involved in, and the results of the great massacre are not only the danger for our soldiers up front. Damage has been done to the people who survived as well, and to all Jews in the Holy Land, who are suffering from anxiety; there is enormous, endless damage to the soul, to the spirit, to the finances! The harsh reality has shaken and shocked the entire world.
My Home is My Castle
There is one other result of the situation – a worrisome phenomenon that is getting lost in the shuffle: a weakening of the relationships in the home. The anxiety, fear, pressure, uncertainty; children being at home and anxious, the news and the sounds heard all over the country, and especially the situation of the families who have been exiled from their homes – all these pose great problems for the Jewish home.
And therefore, these days, when the military experts are – rightfully – concerned about the home front and are arming and fortifying settlements and the home front in general, due to the understanding that one must protect existing things before going off to new battles – so and more so the experts of the soul must fortify Jewish homes, patch up the shalom bayit (marital peace) of the Jewish people, because the true victory in the campaign is only when the Shechina (Divine Presence) is with us – “For Hashem, your G-d travels with your camp”. Therefore, one must first of all strengthen the Jewish home, because “The Shechina rests upon Yisrael only through its families.”
Mazal Tov! A Nation is Born!
In the parasha Chayei Sarah, the Torah tells us of the birth of the Jewish People.
Avraham and Sara, the carriers of the flame and the bearers of faith had been waiting dozens of years for children. And then the time came, and the angels came to tell them about the coming birth of Yitzchak. The angels came and asked Avraham: “Where is Sara, your wife?”, and he replied, “Here in the tent.” What does that have to do with their announcement? And if you might say that the angel wanted to tell Sara as well, well, it doesn’t say that Avraham then calls her to come out, and the angel does not ask him to do so, and, furthermore, when the angel makes his announcement, he speaks only to Avraham: “I will surely return to you…” (in the singular).
If so, why does the Torah mention this seemingly mundane question and its answer, which seemingly have nothing to do with all this?
Chazal already noticed this question, and said drashas relating to it, but the difficulty in the simple understanding of the passuk remains.
The True Test
I heard from one of the tzaddikim of the generation a wonderful idea: If before the great announcement, the angel asks, “Where is Sara?” and is told, “Here, in the tent” – then that must mean that the entire mission depends on this exchange of question and answer. Having Yitzchak born to Avraham and Sara – and really this birth and the very existence of the Jewish People – are only in the merit of the fact that Sara is in the tent!
What does this mean?
The tzaddik explained matters thus: A woman being in the tent means that she is happy with her husband. A woman who is not happy, who is in a home where the atmosphere is that of criticism, where there are no expressions of appreciation, looks for any excuse to escape from it. She’ll go visit friends, her mother, her sister, go shopping, roam around outside – anything except stay at home.
By Avraham Avinu, Sara took first place, as Rashi says on the passuk, “He pitched his tent” – that he was always particular to prepare his wife’s tent before the other tents of the camp. And obviously, to set up an entire camp of converts – both men and women – there had to be complete cooperation between the two of them.
True, Avraham and Sara were a model of faith, but that is not enough to establish the Jewish People. The Jewish People can grow only out of perfect shalom bayit. True, Avraham was a man of chessed (kindness), who gave to the whole world endlessly – but his true test was the chessed he did at home, the chessed with his wife.
That is why the angel asks, “Where is Sara?” And only when he hears that she is in the tent, in other words, that she is happy and that the atmosphere in the home is good – only then does he get the green light to go ahead and give the news to Avraham about the coming birth of Yitzchak!
Home – The Best Place in the World
This is a message not only for the husbands in relation to their wives, but also for the wives in relation to their husbands, as well as for parents in relation to their children. All need to make sure to create a positive atmosphere in the home, a good atmosphere, one of love, pleasantness, zero criticism, maximum giving, maximum listening, encouraging, positive attitude and favorable judgment of everyone.
That is the fertile land upon which the Jewish People grows! That is the environment in which one can raise resilient children, children who are not looking to run away from home, to spend time with friends. Children who always, always come home in the end to their father and mother.
Why wait until you have to deal with the problems? Create an environment that prevents them! Create an atmosphere of pleasantness at home, and then problems won’t develop in the first place.
When the rug is being pulled out from under us, when things are difficult – that is precisely the time to stabilize our life’s main battleship, which is the Jewish home. Are you feeling tense? Do everything you can to prevent this feeling from being taken out on other people or on the children, chalila.
Please, please, stay away from all types of news that make you nervous – it is harmful to your health, and you pay dearly in your shalom bayit and your children’s education as well. One doesn’t always see benefits and damages immediately, but the atmosphere in the home is something that takes years to build, and it needs constant maintenance.
And indeed, it is important to give and donate and volunteer as much as possible. All my students are going out to help the soldiers and the residents of the north or the south, but one mustn’t neglect the home front, namely, the home! True giving and chessed done to Jews come from true chessed in the home.
The Jewish People needs each and every one of us to be strong these days, and our resilience starts at home. That is the beginning of the Jewish People and that is the upholding of the Jewish People and that is our strength to rise to the challenges, and that is also the future of the Jewish People!