Photo Credits: Jeff Cohn Photography
Baltimore, MD – Oct. 10, 2023 – I love words. Writing is my hobby and for the occasional writers block, it comes easily, or at least flows at some point. Not this time. The only words that now flow are not from the pen but rather from the mouth as I hold my Sefer Tehillim and pray Dovid HaMelechs timeless words. As Jews all around the world, never mind in Israel, are still reeling in shock and horror from the Simchas Torah that wasn’t, we in the Diaspora are grasping for something, for anything to connect to our brothers and sisters across the ocean.
I have been avoiding the words of the news like the plague as I search for all the Mi K’Amcha Yisroel stories, photos of our brave warriors and acts of kindness, and displays of unity that are flying all over the word world through other people’s words via e-mail and WhatsApp. The connection is astounding. The chessed is magnificent. And yet the horror is just that. Horror. I am at a loss for words. There is nothing poetic to say about the tragedies and the epic forever- losses on a gargantuan scale. And yet again, I am so grateful for the words that we do have. Holy words from our Sages in our instituted prayers. Everlasting words from the Psalmist.
These are words that join kehillos all around the world, in Batei Kineisios and Batei Midrashos, whether in person, or by phone or on Zoom. These are words that have the power to change the course of the world. That is what the Baltimore Community did Monday night at the Kinus Tefillah at Shomrei Emunah. Filled to capacity and overflowing in the halls and the “extra” room, the men, women and children of Baltimore turned their words into weapons as we uttered, sang, cried out Tehillim in response to our beloved Rabbonim who each recited the designated Kapitlach with great fervor and meaning.
The evening opened up with the President of the Vaad HaRabbanim of Baltimore, HaRav Yaakov Hopfer, encouraging the Klal, like the Navi Yonah did as he says that Hashem saw the people of Ninveh change their ways. Hashem didn’t say what exactly the people of Ninveh did, which specific mitzovs, rather it was their recognition and action of changing. Rabbi Hopfer said we all must do something on an individual level that only we can determine for ourselves. On a communal level, we have to focus about thinking of the “other” and shift away the focus from the “me,” in terms of how we live our lives with simplicity, and not looking at what other people have or ways to enrich our own personal ones on the gashmiyus level. He emphasized that “living a life of simplicity demonstrates that we focus not on ourselves, but on others, and in our service of Hashem, that we are here to serve Him and not here for our physical pleasures”.
As a Preschool Morah, I connect to the aleph beis. Tonight, our precious Aleph Beis letters swirled and whirled, heading determinedly for the target, no different than the Iron Dome Missiles, that of the Sha’ar HaRachamim, with strength in numbers evidenced by the massive turnout of or town.
Permeated by the cloak of Ki Ani Ya’atof, the apex of the Kinus was the stunning and emotional singing of Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel, led by Rabbi Menachem Goldberger. Nobody wanted to stop. It was as if we were holding onto one another clutching in the embrace of Am Yisroel Chai.
Walking out a bit discombobulated with all the others leaving the shul, the blast of cool fresh air revived my emotionally drained soul as my senses returned to somewhat normal, in preparation to go home. It also awakened within me the preschool morah once again as I head back to my kitah tomorrow, unsure of what to expect from my students. I shared this with my friend, as she is a teacher as well, and we exchanged other tragedies of the past and how we dealt with it in the classroom.
Parents! Here’s where your words come in! Your kids hear everything. Please make sure to use your words wisely, no matter how old or savvy your child is. He is still a child. Check out Chai Lifeline and Ohel’s websites for guidance. Focus on the beauty of Klal Yisroel’s achdus at this moment. Bring that into your home. Say Brachos outloud. Praise your child. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much Hashem loves them. Daven. Together.
May it be in the zechus of our words and the tinokos shel beis rabban that we will see an end to this war and Eis Tzara L’Yisroel, heralding Mashiach, B’Meirah Va’Yameinu
Written as a zechus for all the Chayalei Yisroel and captives, and to my former student, Chaim Yair Ben Miriam Devorah.