Machnisei Rachamim

Once again a year has passed, and we find ourselves on the threshold of a new year.

5773 was not an easy year. In fact, many claim it was a particularly difficult and bitter one.

In our collective memories, this year a major focus was directed to the harsh decrees in the Holy Land.

In Israel a new king came to power, one who knew Yosef very well (his father being Josef/Tommy Lapid), and became our sworn enemy.

We suddenly found ourselves being hit with one decree after another. We found ourselves with a new, most challenging assignment: to respond to sinas chinam with ahavas chinam;  to respond to our secular brothers — tinokos shenishbu — in a civilized manner and resist telling ourselves,  “Ach, they will never understand us,” and invest all our resources to turn them into friends.

Internally, we were challenged time and again to avoid falling into the devastating pitfall of machlokes. We tried to live up to the challenge of respecting other opinions and approaches and recognizing that all of us, in his own way, seeks to serve the same goal of kiddush Shem Shamayim.

We are fortunate to be blessed with a direct connection to the Ribbono shel Olam that inspires us to stop and contemplate so that we can live up to the challenges of life.

Hakodesh Baruch Hu gave us the opportunity to live up to high standards in the kashrus of the foods we eat, to excel in mitzvos bein adam laMakom and to do all we can to ensure that the voice of Torah is, baruch Hashem, strong and reverberating throughout the world.

These days of introspection are a time to strengthen our resolve and commit ourselves to take full advantage of these opportunities.

This is also a time to look into our own hearts and reflect whether — as individuals and as a community — we are satisfactorily fulfilling our obligations towards sisters and brothers; to ask ourselves whether we have  allowed ourselves to get so caught up in our own lives that we have forgotten:

To remember the suffering children of the Ribbono shel Olam — the silent heroes and heroines;

To remember the seven-year-old girl who lost her entire family in a car accident near Tiveria and is dealing with life with unbelievable strength;

To remember the young almanah who lost her husband suddenly, within a second, and all we managed was to cluck “tsk, tsk, tsk,” say “nebach, nebach,” and go on with our lives;

To remember the anguished parents who lost their only child and are valiantly raising their grandchildren despite their indescribable pain and grief;

To remember the children who gaze enviously at the school buses picking up their friends, but they have not yet been accepted into a yeshivah / school;

To remember the child who has been victimized and keeps his torment and shame to himself, while the very few who are ready to protect him are fearful of the consequences in the community;

To remember those who don’t have children to worry about;

To remember those who lost their jobs and are draining their savings, if they have any, to proceed with their lives as usual so that, chas v’shalom, word doesn’t get out and ruin their chance of doing good shidduchim with their children;

To remember those whose number the shadchanim seem to have forgotten, as the phone simply does not ring anymore;

To remember those who are courageous enough to attend simchos and wish their neighbors mazel tov upon the engagement of their 18-year-old daughter, while they have three older girls sitting at home;

To remember those who simply don’t have the money to prepare for Yom Tov and are ashamed to let anyone know;

To remember the seventh-grader who claims she will not leave her house on Shabbos or Yom Tov  because her parents can’t afford to buy her Shabbos shoes and she is embarrassed to meet her friends;

To remember the young man who sincerely tries to do whatever he can to support his growing family, but the mazel just doesn’t seem to come his way;

To remember the woman who does anything and everything possible to raise a fine  family, but has one son who goes off the derech, and therefore she can’t get her next son into a good yeshivah;

To remember those who will be spending Rosh Hashanah in the hospital at the bedside of a loved one, and of those who no longer have a bedside to sit at because their loved one has passed away;

To think of those who are shlepping a heavily loaded wagon, and tearfully beseech the Ribbono shel Olam, “Ad mosai Hashem? How much longer?”

Let us all take the time to remember our brothers and daven that Hashem remembers us with rachamim.

Together, let us storm the Heavens:

Kesivah vachasimah tovah,

Ruth Lichtenstein