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YITRO 5784

02/02/2024 11:26:24 AM

Feb2

TUNES AND VERSES THAT WENT THROUGH MY HEAD The “mission” to Israel was so amazing, that I must write about it this week again. Why did I join it? I felt that I had to participate. The verse that Moshe said to the tribes of Gad and Reuven “your brothers are going out to war but you will stay here [on the eastern side of the Jordan]??” kept resonating in my mind. Now, it’s true that Gad and Reuven responded positively to Moshe, and volunteered to be the vanguard of soldiers to cross the Jordan and fight, whereas our mission returned to America after a week.  Nevertheless, every little bit helps. I was reminded of the famous song of the halutsim: “a dunam here, a dunam there, thus the land is redeemed.” One of the verses there refers to the blue JNF box that every family had when I was growing up “every penny that enters the box, the land is redeemed.” Every little bit of effort helps.

There was a beautiful Hebrew song popularized by Yehoram Gaon after the ‘73 war: “I promise you, my little girl, that this will be the last war.” Sadly, his prophesy was not fulfilled. 

But we can still be inspired by the beautiful song “machar,” which sings of a bright future, of new communities being built, and promises, “if not tomorrow, then the day after tomorrow.”

After shabbat in the hotel, as we were waiting for ma’ariv to begin, I started to sing to myself Psalm 144, according to the “yekkish” tradition and tune that I remembered from my youth. The English is “Gd teaches my hands to battle, my fingers to wage war.” I said to myself: as we are relaxing in the lobby of the hotel, the soldiers are getting ready to continue the battle. The psalm continues: “their mouths speak falsehoods.” Exactly the situation today! Our enemies are accusing us of genocide! [I would recommend that you read Psalm 144 after Shabbat]

This past Shabbat, being the week before the yahrzeit of my mother a”h, I read in my Teaneck shul the haftarah describing the victory of Devora and Barak over the enemy Sisera. I was overcome by emotion as I read the last verse: “thus Will perish all of your enemies.” 

And how will the victory happen?  The secret is in the signs that were all over Israel during our trip: “yahad nenatseah:” “together we will win.”  And I thought immediately about the comment of Rashi in this week’s parasha: when the people approached Mt. Sinai, the verbs were in the plural, as Rashi said, “with arguments and disagreements.”  But when they encamped before the mountain, ready to receive the Torah, the verb is in the singular. Rashi explained “like one person with one heart.” Together we will win!

We pray pray for peace; for healing of the wounded, and for safe return of the captives.

[Etymology corner: The word “mission” is derived from the Latin “mittere,” meaning ‘to send,’ so the proper Hebrew translation would be “shelichut.”]

Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Menahem White

Tue, May 21 2024 13 Iyyar 5784