My wife took our two oldest children to Meron on Lag B’Omer night. We’re only 25 minutes away. Why not? When they came back and showed me the photos and the things they saw, I realized how similar and how completely different their upbringing is from mine. When I grew up, we had Disneyland or Six Flags as the big, fun, adventure, especially as day turned to night and all the lights came on. You had Cinderella (or whoever was in charge) and her castle, and throughout the park were all the different characters from Disney or Looney Toons. That was fun!
My kids? They’ve never heard the words “Disneyland” nor “Six Flags." Instead, they have Meron on Lag B’Omer. Instead of Cinderella in her castle, there’s the Boyaner Rebbe lighting the first bonfire with thousands of people singing and dancing. Instead of the Disney characters, you have the…“Meron” characters, who are often strange, weird, on drugs, have psychological issues, or (most likely) all of the above. You even come to recognize several of them after awhile. And while they can be entertaining (much more so than the seven dwarfs), my children know, in the end, that it’s a holy place where one, actually several, of the pillars of Judaism are buried.
“And if you do not listen to Me, nor do all of these mitzvos…” (Vayikra 26:14).
This week’s parsha describes the good that will happen when we follow the Torah and the opposite when we do not.
Unfortunately, throughout our history, we have suffered greatly from all nations. Even America, from what I’m hearing, is not immune to this. Many people will look at this and wonder why. I also enjoy quoting Mark Twain on this: “The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"
When we hear that another person’s child did something wrong and hurt another person, we might get upset about it, but it will eventually fade away. However, when we hear that our own child did something wrong, we begin to worry, and it consumes us for days, if not longer. It hurts us, and we think of ways to try to correct the situation before it develops further.
Our relationship with Hashem is that of a father and son, and history has proven it time and time again. Regarding other nations, they come and go. Which other nation has gone through so much, yet still continues to thrive? Who would have thought, 75 years ago, that there would be growing Jewish communities? All the more so in Eretz Yisroel which is surrounded by neighbors who wish to harm them?
Even though, time and time again, we have moved away from Hashem, “forcing” Hashem to bring us back (one way or another), our history is a living proof of the special relationship we, as a nation, have, that no other nations can claim and prove.
So, instead of looking at Jewish history as a long and painful (continuing) story of persecution and trouble, we should look at it and think, “It’s amazing that we are still alive and doing so well!” This is the ultimate proof of our father-son relationship.
Have a great Shabbos!