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My Go-To Pasuk in These Painful Times

What is your “go to” פסוק (Biblical verse) right now?

With so much pain and suffering in the world at this time, very many people are seeking inspiration from one or more verses that help to keep them grounded, and feeling more secure, trusting and hopeful.

For some, that פסוק is שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָֽד, “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Others may be reciting אנא ה’ הוֹשיעה נא אנא ה’ הצליחה נא, “Please, O Lord, save now! Please, O Lord, make prosperous now!” (Psalms 118:25)

For me, the verse is the very first one in the entire Bible.

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹקֵים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ, “In the beginning of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Rashi (ibid) offers two separate statements relating to this verse that are very relevant to the current struggle between the democratic, Jewish State of Israel and the terrorist group Hamas.

1) He opens by asking why the Torah, which is ultimately a book of laws to govern life for the Jewish people, begins with creation rather than when the Jewish nation is first formed (in Exodus). He replies with the verse כֹּחַ מַעֲשָׂיו הִגִּיד לְעַמּוֹ לָתֵת לָהֶם נַחֲלַת גּוֹיִם (תהילים קי”א, “The strength of His works He related to His people, to give them the inheritance of the nations” (Ps. 111:6).

Rashi continues: For if the nations of the world should say to Israel, “You are robbers, for you conquered by force the lands of the seven nations [of Canaan],” they will reply, “The entire earth belongs to the Holy One, blessed be He; He created it and gave it to whomever He deemed proper… He gave it to them, and when He wished, He took it away from them and gave it to us.”

This means that the Land of Israel was given by God to the Jewish nation.

2) The literal explanation of verse 1 is written above. However, Rashi begins his commentary with דרש, the non-literal definition. This is due to a grammatical issue in the verse. He goes on to explain the verse as a “mission statement” for Creation.

Why did God create the world, he asks? ב-ראשית, or בשביל ראשית, meaning “for the sake of ‘Reishees/God’s first,’” which refer to Torah and Israel. The purpose of Creation was for the Torah and the People who are tasked to maintain its teachings, Israel.

There are so many people in the world right now who are denouncing Israel and the Jews.

In public squares.

On university campuses.

On TV and social media.

It’s easy to be swayed by their passion and their rhetoric.

The Jews are at fault. They’re too…

Israel is at fault. She’s too…

“Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth,” said Joseph Goebbels, Nazi propagandist.

Israel and her allies must remain strong at this time.

The pressure is high now and will only increase with the ground invasion.

Innocent lives will be lost. But only because Hamas refuses to let civilians flee and uses them as human shields.

Innocent people will suffer. But only because their leaders brought unspeakable suffering to Israel.

Regardless, the land of Israel is ours. And the moral high ground, despite our imperfections, is ours.

Never forget who God appointed to be His people and which land He allocated for that purpose.

And let’s continue to fight for truth in a world of hate and lies, so that at least we know, deep down, the justness of our cause.

May God bring about a quick and decisive victory, one which uproots evil Hamas at its core, and restores much needed peace and healing for Israel and Her people, throughout the world.

Amen.


Naphtali Hoff, PsyD is an executive coach and president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at 212.470.6139 or at [email protected].

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