May 19, 2024
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May 19, 2024
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I will never forget the Friday night at the Kotel 22 years ago. It was the fall, with the chill in the air and everyone returning back to routine after the chagim. I was learning in yeshiva in Yerushalayim and remember just how united a feeling it was to be a Jew that Shabbat night. Most inspiring was a clearly secular Israeli woman who walked up to the person standing next to me in the Kotel plaza and asked how she should pray. It was the Friday night when the entire country was focused and praying for the safety of a kidnapped Israeli soldier named Nachshon Wachsman, Hy”d. On one side of the spectrum, the Eidah Hachareidis requested that all women light an extra Shabbat candle. On the other side of the spectrum, secular Israelis were found in shuls all over the country davening on behalf of Nachshon. I was walking up the steps from the Kotel to the Jewish quarter later that night when I heard the tragic news that Nachshon was killed. The devastation was palpable, the entire country was in mourning, and the funeral on Motzei Shabbat was incredibly powerful. Yet, when I was on the bus back to yeshiva from Har Herzl, I started to feel things getting back to “normal” as two people began arguing with one another about what seemed to be nonsense. I lamented in my mind how we were united as a people in times of struggle and tragedy, but for the most part find ourselves divided.

One of the most well-known prophecies of the times of Moshiach is found in Sefer Yeshayahu, where the navi tells us that a number of animals will be at peace with each other, such as the wolf who will lie peacefully with the lamb. In our minds, we can’t even conjure up such a scene, considering that the very nature of these two animals does not call for coexistence. In truth, however, these animals have already coexisted previously in the teiva of Noach. That being the case, why should we be so impressed that they will once again live in peace? Rav Simcha Raz explains that during the time of Noach, all animals lived together in peace because they were united by the troubles that they all faced together. The miracle in the times of Moshiach is that all of the animals will live together in peace, not out of collective danger, but out of the serenity of those times. Often we find in human interactions that people unite when faced with danger, but stand disbanded when at times of peace. May we internalize the lessons of the animals in the times of Noach as well as the time of Moshiach and become a united people.

Good Shabbos!

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

 

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