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Believe in your survival -- and more

ופחדת לילה ויומם

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin ([email protected])

Sometimes we frighten ourselves. In the Torah portion that we just read in the synagogue on Shabbat, there was a list of blessings, as well as curses such as war, famine, and disease. But one curse in particular -- that addresses our frame of mind when exiled from our land -- is especially frightening:

"You will be in fear night and day, and you will not believe in your survival."

Our commentators explain that this mindset does not reflect objective reality. In truth, there is nothing to fear, but we reach a state where we are paralyzed by anxiety, day and night, to the point where we no longer believe in our survival. As Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin wrote: "There is nothing to fear -- and yet you will be afraid." We forget that although we face onerous challenges, the world in general is good, that no problem lasts forever, that our situation can always improve.

And what about us today, more than a century after we have returned to the Land of Israel? This curse was addressed to a nation living in exile; if it was a curse that had no reality then, it has even less reality today. In fact, this curse can easily be flipped and transformed into a blessing, where we believe not only in our ability to survive, but to continuously thrive now that we have come home.

May we merit to deserve and to appreciate this blessing. Shavua tov.


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