Every year on Rosh Hashanah, I make the same leek kugel. My family takes a simultaneous bite and recites out loud the corresponding entreaty of G-d: “May it be your will, G-d … that our enemies be destroyed.”
Uttering that prayer used to feel a touch medieval, a little too apocalyptic for my taste. Until 2020 touched down. I took note that three out of those nine annual requests mention the word enemy.
These symbolic foods force us to swallow a difficult truth. Since time immemorial, there have been sinister plotters lurking behind the scenes, devising plans of evil. Guess what? They’re still around. This is a hard pill for most people to digest, myself included. It is my nature to assume everyone on earth is good and kind. But there comes a time when the evil hits a certain threshold, a critical mass, when it can no longer be ignored or denied.
Forces of manipulation, corruption, censorship, greed, chaos, and control have reached a tipping point of late. They are stepping out of the shadows into full daylight and exposing themselves to the naked eye. Dark systems that are creating anxiety, stress, fear, disempowerment, and diminished free will have recently made themselves exceedingly obvious.
Last week I read a book called Resistance (At All Costs) by Wall Street Journal columnist and author Kimberley Strassel. She elucidates for the reader this modern-day enemy. An enemy lurking inside governments all around the world.
“Deep staters to me are better defined as career civil servants who have growing amounts of power in the administrative state but who work in the shadows,” Strassel explains. They use whatever power their position affords them to promote their own Big Government, left-leaning agenda. Author Evan Sayet, in his phenomenal new book, The Woke Supremacy, calls them Globalists.
How can ordinary citizens like us work to overcome these shadowy, dark forces? One obvious answer springs to mind this time of year. Our physical, boots-on-the-ground work is accomplished with grassroots rallies and peaceful resistance. But our main work here is spiritual. This energetic battle can be won Chanukah-style, by adding one light at a time. As we witness the existence of these dark energies, we reach within ourselves, flip on our inner generators, and shine out the polar-opposite energy: bright beams of light.
The beams of light we generate include trust in G-d, clinging to G-d, prayer to G-d, gratitude, hope, optimism, personal sovereignty, good deeds, Torah, and truth. Any of the above will do. Shine your light brightly using any of these energetic prisms. Project these emotions up through the valves of your heart to create a brilliant light show.
I try my best not to fall into the lower energy states of fear, sadness, overwhelm, frustration, or despair. Some days are easier than others. If I feel myself slipping and starting to become fearful of an onerous mandate, a rushed vaccine, or a corrupt politician, I shift my thoughts and re-center myself in light. I relocate my center of optimism. The more we amplify our collective force field of light, the more it scatters the enemy.
I have a favorite energetic feeling I like to reach for first — gratitude. It saves me every time. How do I make myself feel gratitude? I conjure feelings of gratitude by dipping back into any kindness ever done for me by man or by G-d. I know I got it right when I can feel gratitude swirling around inside the left half of my upper back and traveling down my left arm.
I contemplate the classic verse “Olam chesed yibaneh” (Psalms 89:3). The world is built on kindness. What recently struck me is that kindness is written in future-tense. Maybe because every kindness G-d does for us is always laying the groundwork for the next one coming.
I also noticed that the noun gratitude in Hebrew turns into a verb, hakaras ha’tov. Gratitude is a mover and a shaker, a powerhouse. It can singlehandedly haul the stubborn mind out of its fearful, worried state. Grateful thoughts do not happen automatically; they need constant coaxing to become habit. They are never one and done. Even remembering that gratitude is an option takes practice.
I noticed some powerful prototypes of gratitude in the recent parshiyot. Leah named each of her six sons with the energy of gratitude, and Hashem kept giving her more. Rachel had an entirely different energy when she named her sons. Look back in the text and you’ll see. Even though she was so utterly beloved by Yaakov, he snapped at her when she approached him with that same negative energy.
Leah, who had it rough from a young age, did not become bitter. Instead she developed a strong sense of gratitude and used it to forge a tight relationship with G-d. Leah ended up experiencing a less tumultuous life than Rachel. One could attribute that to her constant gratitude. While Rachel continues to redeem us from beyond with her singular merit, we are called Yehudim after Leah’s son Yehuda, because as a nation, we are defined by gratitude.
When Yaakov Avinu was terrified of Eisav’s impeding army, he caught himself and said, “Katonti mi’kol ha’chasadim u’mi’kol ha’emes.” Yaakov was able to reset his energy through expressing his gratitude out loud. He remembered all of G-d’s tremendous kindnesses to him and felt viscerally reassured. Shortly thereafter, the text makes sure to tell us, he was able to sleep through the night.
Grateful thoughts launch rocket ships. They generate enough G-force to propel our beams of light into the stratosphere. When I need to power up my gratitude during these strange times, I reach for one particular grateful thought to spin around the vortex of my mind. This virus ended up with a 98% survival rate. For many, our brilliant immune systems protected us and figured out how to quell the assault. What a magnified chesed of Hashem. For that, I cannot thank Him enough.
The second, more recently discovered high-flying thought came to me over Shabbos. In my estimation, President Trump won so big on Election Day that he overrode all the pre-programmed algorithms of corruption. The enemies who plotted evil did not anticipate the “maga”-volume of love the patriots of this country have for our president. They had to halt the election and implement Plan B. They scrambled under the cover of night to compensate for Trump’s massive win. Much to their chagrin, their premeditated computer algorithms were not enough to deliver a win to their candidate. Inside their scrambling lies the chesed. Without the overt suitcase scrambling, the hidden fraud may have never been uncovered. If the Trump win had not massively overshot their algorithms, the covert fraud may have remained forever buried inside dominion servers. Thank you, Hashem, for this yet-unfolding salvation.
King David taught us a different kind of algorithm. The Kindness:Hope algorithm revealed in Psalms 33:22. “May your kindness, Hashem, be upon us, just as we hoped to you.” This verse ensures that G-d’s kindness will rest upon us in direct proportion to the Hope we place in Him, in what seems to be a one-to-one ratio. The volume of hope exuded from your heart will yield the same measure of G-d’s kindness out into the world, every single time. So get your hopes up.
Rav Nachman concurs. He suggests the whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is not be afraid AT ALL. So any time you see a post or tweet that makes your heart constrict and your bridge get narrower, do what I do: turn it off. Instead, I close my eyes and imagine G-d reaching down to hold the bridge steady for us and whispering that He’s got this.
If I had one wish it would be this. I would snap my fingers and help everyone, including myself, drop all fear. When this blindfold of fear falls off, a fresh set of eyes takes over, a calm set of eyes. Eyes with crystal-clear vision, like those fleeting moments of crisp sunlight right before dusk, when everything comes into relaxed focus and all is well in the world.
Until then I will tell you about a shortcut I found, a fail-safe place I go for a quick hit of hope, optimism and gratitude: Sidney Powell’s Twitter feed. Anytime I see her tweet out the words #ReleaseTheKracken, my ray of hope beams out for miles.
Where else could we find such a brilliant, incisive, playful, quick-witted woman willing to take on this Goliath of evil?
My Rosh Hashanah prayer from three months ago hits the refresh button: “May G-d help Sidney, Rudy, Jenna, Flynn, and Lin decimate our enemies entirely.” A more specific prayer than the one I said on Rosh Hashanah. Back then, I had no idea G-d was holding these courageous people up His sleeve. I’m sure He’s got an army full of surprises awaiting us in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, our bright spotlights of hope, optimism, and gratitude that we are laying down in the dark will light the runway and give the incoming miracles a clear path to touch down. This will make it much easier for the entire world to watch them land, and the redemption will arrive fully illuminated.
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.