Monday, March 10, 2008
Why is My Heart Closed to the Pain of My People?
When I read and think about the terrorist attacks on the yeshiva bochurim at Merkaz HaRav, I wonder why it is that my heart seems closed to feeling the pain and I feel unable to daven to Hashem to save us.
I think the first part of the answer is the fact that, deep down, I'm just afraid that of disappointment. I think that I don't want to daven for something to stop if it's just going to happen again and again.
And I think behind that, there's a general way of dealing with things that I have grown accustomed to because it serves me well most of the time. My general approach to things is not to be bothered at all by things that I cannot change. If there's nothing I can really do about something, I have conditioned myself not to care. This is connected to one of my favorite Gemaras, which says, "לעולם יהא אדם רך כקנה ואל יהא קשה כארז- מסכת תענית דף כ. "A person should always be flexible like a reed, and not hard like a Cedar." After the plague of Barad, hail, all of the plants in Mitzrayim, Egypt, were killed, except for the young, soft plants. They were able to just go with the flow of all of the hard hail that hit them, and therefore they survived. The idea is that I can keep my equanimity in the face of most things that happen to me by this method of simply not taking anything to heart that's really outside of my control anyway.
So when it comes to these terrorists, Yemach Shemem V'Zichram, who kill Jewish people, I guess I feel that this has been going on for as long as there have been Jews living in Eretz Yisroel, so I have a hard time believing that my tefillah will actually change anything. I know this is a wrong way to think, but my natural tendency is to avoid disappointment by not expecting things to get better. If I don't daven and I don't hope, I won't be disappointed by not being answered. And if I keep my heart closed, I won't have to feel the pain of other Jews.
So what's the answer? How can I open my heart and find it in myself to daven for our people when bad things happen, without losing the ability keep my equanimity in everyday life when things don't go in the "ideal" way? ???
(Picture courtesy of New York Times)
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