11 Cheshvan 5781 / Thursday, October 29, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
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Back in the War Zone    

Back in the War Zone

The south of Israel has become the emuna capital of the world. Without emuna, one would lose sanity trying to "get used" to the rockets from Gaza...


The first time I actually 'experienced' a rocket falling, in any real sense of the word, was about a year and a half ago. It was early morning, I was walking around the exercise track around my village - and completely unexpectedly, the siren went off. I stood still, and had no idea what to do: was it serious? Wasn't everything in G-d's hands anyway? Was it just a practise?
The siren stopped - and I felt the ground shake, as the rocket 'hit' somewhere fairly close. That's when I realized: 'this is real!' I sprinted home, to be with my kids, and over the next couple of days, I had ample opportunity to think about rocket attacks, emuna, and where I was holding with it all.
Initially, I didn't bother going to the 'safe room' in my house - because everything was from G-d, and in G-d's hands. But after I'd felt the house shake a few times, from impacts a few miles away, I stopped being quite so blasé about it all.
Rockets were real. Rockets could kill and hurt people, G-d forbid, and the only reason that hundreds of rockets could fall with such little actual damage in Israel, is because G-d was doing some ongoing, amazing, barely-hidden miracles.
The hostilities died down; there was another truce, or cease-fire, and as is human nature, everything went 'back to normal' fairly quickly.
The next time the rockets started up, (at least, where I live…) was March 2012, just after Purim. Schools were closed, and for the three days where there were rockets, me and the kids were off on local-council sponsored trips to the Safari, or chilling at home. It was actually quite 'fun', if you can say that, as we had barely any sirens, and it was like being on the front line of a dramatic event, but in a sort of 'protected' bubble.
I felt like I had emuna. I felt like I was trusting G-d, and that 'war' was not as stressful as I thought it was going to be. In the intervening months, I had a number of my own spiritual 'wars' to fight, that were extremely close to home in every sense of the word. I was at battle stations for weeks at a time, and each time I won another battle, or got through another 'combat' situation in one piece, I felt closer to G-d, and that my emuna was growing in leaps and bounds.
Ein od milvado- there is only G-d.
I didn't know the rockets had started falling again in Israel until someone mentioned it to me a couple of days' after it had started. I'm not 'into' news much these days; I don't read papers, I don't listen to radio, I don't surf the net (more than once a week from the library…)
So when Israel took out a top Hamas terrorist, I had no idea about anything until my neighbour told me they'd cancelled the kids' schools the following day. There hadn't been any sirens, at least for me. No rockets. No 'drama'. It all felt a bit unreal and over-reactive.
The next morning, we were planning to go to the zoo in Jerusalem, along with a few hundred other residents of my village. The first sirens started blaring early in the morning, and I started to feel really on edge.
My husband had taken the car, and the buses were leaving from next to our village's central synagogue. I walked the girls up to the where the buses were parked - and it felt like the whole world suddenly went mad.
There were booms and puffs of smoke in the air (it was the Iron Dome rockets deploying, but at the time, I didn't know that); the sirens were blaring in my village, and a few other places as well; I was rooted to the spot, outside, next to all the buses and the bus drivers - and then I felt the ground shake as the rockets landed in Kiryat Malachi, a 10 minute drive away from where I live. I do a lot of shopping in Kiryat Malachi. I'm there at least two or three times a week.
Even before I knew where the rockets had fallen, or that three people had died in that attack, I felt really shaken up. I was desperate to get on the bus, and get out of my village for a bit.
On the bus to the zoo, I continued to feel really wound up and stressed. Where was my emuna? What had happened to my unshakeable belief that Ein Od Milvado, there was only Hashem?
Maybe, I'd been fooling myself, and I really didn't have that much emuna after all?
The thought bothered me a lot. Usually, I do my hitbodedut, or personal prayer, walking around my village. The next day, Friday, I stayed home, and tried to pray on my couch. It was 'ok', but it wasn't great. I still felt quite disconnected and distant from G-d.
That day was crazy. So many planes flying right over my house - all night and all day. So many 'Iron Dome' deployments. So many sirens - six times. The penultimate one occurred as I was half way through lighting my Shabbat candles. I said a very quick blessing, and ran upstairs to the 'safe' room.
The last one happened in the middle of Shabbat supper. I was soooooo tired afterwards, I just wanted to crawl into bed. Where was my emuna? Why had I rushed through my candle-lighting blessing? Did I believe in Hashem's Divine Providence, that He is manipulating every single thing in the world, from the largest to the smallest, or not? I didn't know.
I woke up the next day and I felt a bit calmer, a bit better. I felt a bit more connected to G-d, as the 'booms' continued, and the house shook a few more times over Shabbat, as though my emuna was slowly coming back.
I realized a person doesn't get emuna overnight. The last year, I've been building my emuna that G-d is behind 'people' and a lot of painful events in my life. But I haven't been building 'rocket' emuna. That's this week's job. I'm starting right down on the ground floor again, and I see that I have to put a lot of prayer time in before a siren can go off, or a rocket fly over, and I can accept the situation without getting terribly stressed about it.
I have a bit more emuna than yesterday. Today, I'm less snappy (although still a lot more snappy than I was before the rockets started falling…) Today, I'm less 'spaced out', and I have less need to escape from my village.
Where am I going to go, anyway, to get away from G-d? I can't escape G-d. I can't run away from His decisions about my life, even scary ones like how long I'm going to live. My life is in His hands. I believe that 100% in my head.
And my heart? My heart is still full of fear. It's still full of stress. It's still trying to work out how a person who thought they had emuna could run up the stairs to the 'safe' room in the middle of Shabbat candlelighting and get quite shaky.
I know G-d is protecting us, miraculously. I know a person can't get blown up unless G-d has already decided that. I know I'm in a war zone - a war to have emuna - and that all the doubts and fears are the 'enemies' that I have to continue to fight off, with G-d's help.
I feel like I've been fighting some version of this same war for months. For years. I feel like something has to 'give' soon, at least in my life, as even the most dedicated soldier needs a break, to recharge and recuperate.
It will come. It has to come.
Even the longest, hardest wars have to end at some point. And when they do….Moshiach.
* * *
Check out Rivka Levy's new book The Happy Workshop based on the teachings of Rabbi Shalom Arush

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  1 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  so humble, so real
yehudit12/18/2012 9:30:46 AM

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