WE CAN DO IT
HARAV Y. REUVEN RUBIN SHLITA
Things just don’t seem to be letting up. Lock downs, masks, distancing, it has all become part of our new every day. For many, life seems to be a constant slog through the treacle of murky fear for what the morrow will bring. Whispers of chaverim stricken down by an invisible enemy keeps us all on edge. How can we cope? Where do we find clarity?
As always, let us look to Chazal for our answers.
The Rebbe, Rav Pinchas Koritzer was known to say that ‘until we reach the parsha of Lech Lecha the world is still in chaos.’
Well, I’m sure that much of what we are living through of late certainly carries a strong tinge of said chaos. So now we should look further to what the Tzadik said,
‘With the reading of Avrohom Avinu and his chesed the world becomes a place where fresh salvations come about.’
As we have learnt from Gutta Yidden, a Jew has to live with each week’s parsha, since the events of each reading bring with it the influences depicted therein. Lech Lecha and Vayera bring us the wonder of Avrohom and his chesed, and it is there for the taking. In the world that was previously prone to chaos, it was Avrohom with his chesed and steadfastness that brought clarity to mankind.
Medical experts are telling us that beyond all the other serious challenges during this pandemic, fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. The most powerful tool we have is the Chesed that Avrohom Avinu embedded in our neshomahs. This chesed has to be practiced on all levels. There is the realm of sharing and giving to others and then there is the giving of chesed to one’s own self. The Rebbe Rav Shlomo of Karlin tells us that the greatest yetzer horah we can allow ourselves is to forget we are children of the King of Kings, the Eibishter. These parshios reawaken the feeling of who we are and from whence we come. Avrohom’s tests were given so that he could realise within himself what strengths of emunah he had. The Maharal tells us that none of these tests were given so Avrohom could prove how much faith he had. After all, Hashem knows our hearts without our proving anything. No, these tests were administered to stir up in Avrohom his strengths and abilities, things he may never have been aware of otherwise. The Ramban says that a ‘nisoyon’ (test) brings the potential into actuality. It is the same Hebrew word as used to denote a flag pole, to publicly demonstrate the hidden potential of the individual. The Avnei Nezer says that people use only seven percent of their potential. The word nisoyon is related to the word nes, miracle. In every test life throws our way, we can overcome each miraculously because hidden within our souls is a spark of Avrohom Avinu. Each new challenge brought further growth to different areas of Avrohom’s emunah.
We are all being asked to overcome the Nisoyon of this pandemic that the Eibishter has chosen for us. Our neshomahs have been sent to this moment in time because we have in us the ability to overcome this particular challenge. COVID 19 is Hashem’s wake up call to a world that was losing its way. Through chesed and drawing each other closer we can bring strength and hope to one another. At the personal level, we must also show chesed, too many are beating themselves up over situations that are beyond their control, this only wreaks havoc within, causing depression and worse. We are the Eibishter’s children, and it is our roll to show chesed at all levels, thereby dispelling the chaos around us.
Just before the pandemic struck, we started a volunteer group named “Chaiky’s Network” in order to carry on the work of the Rebbetzin A’H. Her goal had always been to bring support and help to others on a personal level, and so in this way the volunteers hope to emulate her avodah. I have seen a lot of the correspondence going through the groups mailbox, and one can’t help but be heartened by the level of care these volunteers offer others, many of whom are total strangers.
In Lech Lecha Avrohom is bidden to go outside and count the stars. Chazal explain that this is exactly what he did. Obviously such a feat is impossible, no matter, Avrohom was given a task, so what if it is impossible, count we must! Time and again he found himself faced with what could be thought of as insurmountable difficulties. Yet, just as we have seen in the physical realm, when one is called upon to do something that may seem impossible, if needs must, one will muster hidden strengths that allow him to go beyond anything he would have felt possible. This is true spiritually as well; we have hidden strengths and our trials are sent to us so we can learn about our inner resilience and use it for good.
We absorb these life-affirming lessons from the story of Avrohom Avinu, and with this knowledge we can plot our own way through life. Nothing is mentioned in the Torah without purpose, and in the world that was previously prone to chaos, it was Avrohom with his chesed and steadfastness that brought clarity to mankind.
Dear Yidden, we are going through a world changing epoch, a time where we are being asked to stretch ourselves to the limits, yet, we have Avrohom Avinu, his remarkable essence lives in our chesed. Let us all count the stars, and bring illumination into a chaotic world.