OUR TIMES NEED CLARITY
Harav Y. Reuven Rubin Shlita
As I write these words, thousands of well-meaning people are treading the streets of Glasgow with great purpose and dedication. Sadly, they are not there to visit my son’s Beis Medrash, although for those in the crowd who are Yieden, they are losing a great opportunity. No, the hoards have gathered to demonstrate their concern regarding what is called, “Global Warming,” and some of them are really wound up about it. Glasgow has become a center point for such concern because leaders of many nations have come together for an international conference wherein, they will put forward their plans to tackle this problem, and listen to experts who will offer their views. Now, I am certain all my readers are aware of this international event, which goes under the name ‘Cop 26’, and I am not about to dabble in the scientific or political aspects of the environmental concerns that all these fine folks are vexed about. As a proud Ziedy of grandchildren who are born and raised in the fair city of Glasgow, I would venture to say that I never took this particular corner of the world as an especially noble exemplar of environmental perfection, but be that as it may, greater minds found it would be the perfect spot to host just such an event. President’s, Prime Ministers, Royals of all hues, plus various chairmen of powerful organisations, have all come together (via over four hundred private jets) talking important talk whilst perhaps not really walking it.
We are in Golus, and as Avrohom Avinu said ‘we are strangers, residents here’, so generally remarking about such confabs are not part of my remit. However, this one is different, all this environmental concern is impacting on the entirety of the world’s culture. Much of what is now being spoken of will impact on our community, and even just living in the same space will have some influence on our homes and lives. All this information flooding about can become overcoming, especially when presented with such sensational details.
Parshas Vayeitzei opens with Yakov departing from Be’er Sheva and going to Choron. The Torah tells us: “He encountered the place and spent the night there because the sun had set…..” Rashi explains that the usage of the Hebrew word for ‘encounter’ intonates an expression of ‘Prayer’ and that Yakov Avinu inaugurated the tefilla of Arvis (Maariv) at that time.
The Yismach Yisroel of Alexander Ztl elucidates and points out that the root of the word Arvis is darkness and turmoil. The Rebbe goes on to guide us, ‘There are times when one is in turmoil and feeling lost from the darkness of the world around him. Clarity becomes impossible, and one feels lost. The powerful prayers that Yakov Avinu created is an eternal moment wherein even in the darkest of times, his children, the Bnei Yisroel can find strength and hope.
We are living in times of clouds of disquiet, wherein society is being foisted into fear and worry.
A Yied has an antidote to all this, a sweet maariv, a moment wherein the mind and heart can find quiet and illumination. I am not a scientist nor do I pretend to be a mavin on wind power verses coal. However, I have seen the wondrous beauty of a tranquil maariv, softly taking our fears away and placing our minds at rest with our inner faith in the Eibishter. This world has a Creator, and it is His connection that will bring us answers.
The challenges in this generation are extremely complicated, no longer do we live in simple times with basic answers. Things are developing at breakneck speed and the public is agog about what is real and what is fiction.
This article will be published on the Yorziet of my Rebbetzin, Chaya Sorah Bas Rav Shlomo Yechiel Z”L. I used to buy her siddurim, usually those small pocket book sized ones that I, a mere man, thought most practical. However, ‘her’ siddur was a large one that I had bought early on in our marriage. It took up most of her bag, no matter it was her special one. (The small siddurim that I so carefully picked out ended up with all the Grandchildren) I rarely saw her daven, not that she ever missed a tefilla, it was only that she always davened in private. If I ever walked in whilst she was davening, she would close the siddur and pretend nothing was going on. She wore out that siddur, turning its pages through all the times of life’s ups and downs. Her tfilahs at night brought illumination to so many, and it was done in the stillness of a heart that sought clarity no matter where the Eibishter placed her.
May all our tefillas be heard and may the zechusim of our forebears stand by us in good stead. Amein