Thursday, July 31, 2014


Lately, all I can think about is the current situation in Israel. A clamor of convictions about the conflict lives in the back of my mind, interrupting my internal dialogue with fiery claims as I go about my day. Thoughts of innocent lives stolen too soon, of soldiers who have given up everything to protect their people. I think about this world- this world that contains infinite capacity for kindness and truth is the same world that lives with eyes half shut and hearts desensitized to unfathomable acts of violence. Over and over, I silently assert myself to an imaginary audience: Israel has a right to defend itself. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Israel wants peace. We are ready for peace, but the world isn’t ready for truth.

Those words don't comfort me. Instead, they plague me like a broken record. They pain me because the world isn't willing to listen to them. The same words that I hear in my mind I hear on the news, on the radio, in dinner table conversations. Everything that can be said has been said. Arguments in defense of Israel’s actions have been delivered with eloquence and intellectual honesty, each one culminating with the satisfying blow of cold, hard facts. And it seems that every time, the words ricochet off the globe’s hardened consciousness, their message absorbed by no one and nothing, their conviction now but a homeless echo discerned only by those responsible for its conception.

So I don’t really know what to say. I just feel like I need to acknowledge the gravity of the situation and voice the concern I feel for my friends and family in Israel.

I do believe things will get better. For weeks, I’ve been trying to trying to decipher G-d’s cryptic ways and translate the puzzling stories He tells through His creations. There has to be a message here, some uplifting conclusion that will ease our minds. You may have noticed that my writing almost always follows a question or inconsistency to its final reconciliation, because I truly believe that from darkness and evil sprout light and goodness.

But in this case, I haven't quite figured out yet how to appreciate that hidden light. G-d is speaking a language that we’re struggling to understand, and no real consolation can be offered until the ultimate war between Truth and falsehood has reached its end.

I really wish G-d would be more transparent.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Reflections on Gimmel Tammuz

Today is the 20th yartzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I never had the privilege of meeting the Rebbe, but what I have had is the precious opportunity to study a portion of his mystical teachings. Chassidus is a philosophy of depth, complexity, and honesty, but it's also so much more than that.

Chassidus forces you to meet the soul that you are. It balks at the constraints of nature and challenges you to reassess the limitations of a seemingly finite existence. It banishes the notion of a one-dimensional G-d figure, replacing every answer about G-d with a question. It introduces you to a G-d who needs you, a G-d who gives you a purpose simply by desiring you. It speaks of a G-d who transcends all created experiences, yet intimately knows your joys and sorrows even more profoundly than you do. Chabad Chassidus bridges the chasm between physical and spiritual, body and soul, G-d and Jew.

It is the study of Torah through the prism of Chassidus that has kept my personal Judaism alive, and it is due to the Rebbe’s influence that world Jewry has thrived to such an astonishing extent. Words cannot capture the magnitude of the Rebbe’s impact or the gratitude that I feel for having found a path guided by his philosophy.

This day may be the yartzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but the Rebbe is by no means removed from the advances of world. Since his passing, new sparks of his influence enlighten the world every day: A revitalized connection to G-d, a more nuanced appreciation for Torah wisdom, a purer love of one’s fellow.

This day is not a commemoration of that which was. Gimmel Tammuz is a recognition of what is if we simply peer beneath the surface, and what can be if we embrace that hidden truth and live it.