My brother-in law texted me right after Havdalah. He couldn’t wait. It’s a beautiful thing when loved ones come bearing gifts of insight. I gather them close to my heart like diamonds.
How we got here no longer matters. What matters is that we are in the middle of something. A challenge set forth by Hashem. G-d has a tendency to put us in in the middle of some pretty bizarre situations, most likely for one goal: So none of us miss the opportunity to cling to Him during our brief stint here on earth. Clinging to Him with joy is why we came.
The occasional turbulence shakes us out of our complacency and opens a portal of loyalty for G-d. Loyalty means something to Him; it occupies the first two slots on the Tablets. So it should also mean something to us. We don’t always get to understand the confusing needs of our Beloved, but we scramble to deliver. That’s how love goes.
We find ourselves inside a modern-day challenge of biblical proportions. Since that holy moment Nachshon dipped his toe in the Red Sea, we again find ourselves stepping out into the barren desert holding on to nothing but sand and sky. Fire and cloud. G-d and Man.
Each soul treading that minimal existence was perpetually and subliminally asked two basic questions. The same two questions facing our souls today:
(1) Will we trust G-d or will we forget Him?
(2) Will we complain or will we be grateful?
When some overbearing political mandate comes to push me out of peace, these two wise old questions retrieve me like a lost puppy and coax me back inside my protective vortex of Faith. My vortex is a shimmering terrain. It’s my happy place. I slip inside to recover my relationship with G-d. I relax and recalibrate the rhythm of my breath to match the rise and fall of G-d’s. I whisper to His bent ear every goodness He’s ever given me. My toenails, my eyeballs, my tastebuds. My kids. My husband. My coworkers. My patients.
I climb up my emotional spectrum, rung by rung, back up towards trust in G-d. The rungs are constructed of gratitude and offer sturdy footing. Most days I fall off this ladder every five minutes. Staying balanced in trust and gratitude is the work of life.
My brother-in-law’s text also came to nudge me back inside my vortex. He taught me about G-d’s invisible roof. He told me to look up the ArtScroll explanation below the Haftarah on the first day of Sukkot. Page 366. That was where he stumbled upon gold.
The Haftarah talks about the war of Gog U’Magog. This famous final war of Redemption and the holiday of Sukkot are internally linked for many reasons.
R’ Hirsch, a lover of etymology, found a connection through a play on words. Gog houses the word gag, roof. The sukkah must be built with a weak roof. This weak roof comes to remind us that it is never our meager mortar protecting us, but rather our best refuge is under G-d’s intangible roof.
Such is the paradoxical lesson of Sukkot: What doesn’t seem sturdy is the most dependable. The intangible holds a tangible serenity. This is a slippery concept for us tactile beings to grasp. A healthy imagination is required.
Sukkot is the annual reminder that we sleep under G-d’s sky; all else is illusion. The physical will crumble and fall, the spiritual stands tall.
Rav Hirsch kicks this thought up another notch. This is where I start to wonder if he had prophetic inklings for this exact moment in Corona Time. R’ Hirsch said when you place the letter “mem” in front of something in Hebrew, it connotes the language of projecting something. Like ohr and m’ohr. Light and flashlight.
Gog alludes to the enemy who doesn’t trust G-d’s intangible protection. The enemy who misses the whole point of Sukkot. Magog refers to an enemy who feels compelled to project this lack of trust onto other people as well. They force others to stand under their manmade roof of “protection” with them. “They delude themselves (and others) into thinking that they can make themselves safe against that which comes from Above.”
Not only do they discredit G-d’s protection for themselves, they project faithlessness onto the masses. The allure of standing under a fake roof not only becomes widespread, it become virtuous.
Weak and flimsy materials become more trusted than the invisible bedrock G-d built into creation. Man becomes arrogant and thinks he understands the mysteries of nature and miracles of healing better than G-d. Man assumes responsibility for life and death, sickness and health, and projects that fallacy onto others.
Gog U’magog starts to eerily sound like the six o’clock newscaster admonishing you to stay home, stay safe. Or those intrusive flashing highway signs reminding you to wear your mask. The illusion of manmade safety being subliminally projected onto the masses.
Who among us can approximate the effortless expertise of G-d? I’d like to see one medical doctor fashion a thumb. Or a politician rain hail from the sky. How have we sat silently while G-d’s sovereignty has been sidelined? Thankfully, we have a forgiving and gracious G-d. Every day is a fresh chance to step out of fear and back into faith. When you show out for G-d, He shows out big for you.
Classic Jewish arguments have also become bent and deformed to fit neatly under this synthetic roof.
Maybe chillul Hashem is not what we have been taught. Maybe it is when we become more concerned with the opinion of corrupt policymakers than with the opinion of G-d Himself. Maybe it is more important to teach our children to care more about what G-d thinks about their choices than power-hungry government officials.
What we have here is an entire world is trying to stuff everyone under the same plastic roof they are being made to stand under. Be nice, they say, be kind. No, thank you. I’d rather be loyal to my G-d. And trust Him to run His world.
The word hishtadlus starts to trigger me when it totally obliterates any acknowledgement of G-d’s involvement. When the scoreboard starts to read Man-100; G-d-zero, we all lose.
Maybe “v’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoseichem” is warning us to guard against those who come to steal our vitality and zest for life. Or our sanity. Or our connection to other people. There is nothing social about being distant. Souls wither and die inside depression and loneliness.
I meet people and I can sense something within two seconds. If they have an alive relationship with G-d or not. It is a certain twinkle in their eye. An ease with life. Israelis call it simchat ha’chaim. You can be a chassidishe rebbetzin or a redneck biker. I know by the energy you are emitting if you are vibing inside faith or fear. If you intuitively understand that this has never been about a virus. It has been about fear, control, and the staged removal of G-d from civilization.
I have had a fellow Jew curse me out and a biker fist-bump me all in the same day. Any liberated soul unafraid to stand up boldly for G-d and country is my brother nowadays. I can only pray for the rest. I have come to realize that only G-d Himself can awaken people. Ha’me’orer yesheinim, ha’maykitz nirdamim (Nishmat).
So, how can each of us continue to bring more light to this world?
Declare “In G-d We Trust” everywhere you go. Declare your loyalty to G-d publicly and privately. Bring Him up in conversation any chance you have. It is our vocal display of faith that will move heaven. The biggest kiddush Hashem we can do is not cower to flesh and blood. Only One authority deserves our reverence.
At this point, anyone still clinging to, or projecting onto others, a false roof of “protection” is in for a crushing disappointment. That roof always caves in. G-d has been waiting patiently for us to look up and notice His invisible roof gliding gently overhead. He has always been there protecting us and always will be.
I feel tremendous hope in the air. Hold on tight for this year of amazement. “V’od me’at v’ein rasha” (Psalms 37:10). Evil is on its way out.
We can also check off that strange Gemara in Sotah (49:2) from our list. The one that says the face of the generation before Mashiach will be like the face of a dog. We have seen the recent pictures of stray foxes wandering near Har HaBayis. Now we are witnessing this other bizarre prediction materialize and it makes me feel better about life. It’s all just bringing us one step closer to Mashiach.
I see so many people waking up. All of us climbing up the same emotional ladder towards G-d. We will soon grab the flag. Flip the switch of gratitude, trust, and loyalty, and convert chaos into tangible peace. Slip in that last quarter that pushes all the other quarters over the edge and wins the jackpot.
That day when we will widen our eyes at each other in disbelief. When peace will sit beside us in the sukkah, and all we can hear is the clinking of champagne glasses for miles. May it be a quick and easy redemption. May we continue to watch it unfold before our eyes. (Arutz Sheva)
Dr. Gila Jedwab has been practicing dentistry for nearly two decades. She graduated from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in 2000 and completed her residency in general practice at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her dental practice is in Cedarhurst.