Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
A couple gets married yesterday and, while under the Chuppah, hears an air raid siren. Children who think the pandemic is over and they can return to their school routine find themselves once again learning through ZOOM when school is canceled. Israelis in the North extend open invitations to Israelis in the South to come up North and relax, out of harm's way, with them. In Lod, mothers look out their windows, see rioters burning their cars and, in the midst of it, need to calm their children. A gabai (synagogue manager) arrives at his synagogue and sees it desecrated. A reporter tearfully conveys that Torah scrolls have been burned. Teachers and students realize there will not be any school today simply because their school is gone. Near Beersheba, a driver is surrounded by a lynch mob and hesitates whether to drive away or to fight back, but decides to drive away because of his little children in the back seat. Police officers and soldiers try to restore order. A synagogue in the United States distributes a book of Psalms to each congregant and divides the hours of the day and night among them so that someone is praying for us in Israel at all times. Families in Ramle and Akko go to sleep with the pungent smell of smoke wafting through their windows. Soldiers operate the Iron Dome anti-missile system, firefighters extinguish fires. Residents of central Israel are searching for the key to their bomb shelter which they have not entered in years. And let's not forget that residents of the South have lived with this reality for years. Meanwhile, community leaders, youth movements, rabbis, volunteers, charitable organizations, and medical and emergency crews are helping around the clock. The list is long and everyone can add many people and stories to it.
"Take a census of the entire assembly of the Children of Israel." (Bamidbar 1:2) These words open Bamidbar, the Torah portion of the week. Our commentators explain that this census project was meant to count each and every individual - to count each person and assign to each one a role, a sense of meaning, and a mission. Each of us is important since we are writing a shared and eternal story.
The Hebrew words "Se'u et rosh" that begin the above passage also mean "raise your heads." When we have a common purpose, we only need to raise our heads high, transcend the present hardship, and know that, in the end, our spirit will prevail.
Have a good month and may we hear only good news.