Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tehillim Fatigue

I've been thinking a lot about Tehillim Fatigue - the way that our prayers for our kidnapped boys, Gilad, Eyal and Naftali, lose their strength and intensity over time. It's not out of a lack of feeling for them and their families, Gd forbid; it's just a product of emotional overload, of a creeping feeling of hopelessness due to the lack of positive news, and perhaps of the general doubt as to whether Gd listens to our prayers.

Last week, in a different forum, I wrote about visualizing the joy of their return, but after a week of numbing updates about arrests and searches that have not yielded visible fruit, that joy is becoming harder to imagine. As we approach this coming Shabbat, though, I am reminded of two important points regarding light and hope.

This Shabbat is Rosh Chodesh, the New Moon. The Moon has a special resonance for Jews; our tradition compares our nation to the Moon, with its waxing and waning, and it compares Gd to the Sun, the provider of our light. Here are two relevant lessons of the New Moon, in particular:

1. As illustrated well in the series of pictures above (courtesy of Wikipedia), at the New Moon's time of apparent darkness, the Moon actually is experiencing its most direct, fullest sunlight! The Moon is positioned between the Earth and the Sun, so that the side of the Moon facing away from Earth is maximally lit up - we just can't see it, because of where we are. Often, when things look darkest, the light is full and strong. It's just behind the scenes.

2. The source of the Moon's light is still there at the New Moon; the side of the Moon that faces us is dark only because the Moon has moved, leaving us looking at its shaded side. Once the alignment of Moon and Earth shifts a little bit, the Moon's visible illumination will be restored. The same is true for us: Sometimes we can't see light, but it's because we have let ourselves get out of the proper alignment. Some people might say, then, that all they need to do is wait, and the universe will shift and the alignment will change. But perhaps at a New Moon we ought to ask ourselves: what do I need to do to shift the alignment myself, in order to enter the light?

Let us shift the alignment, and enter the light. Let us continue to give a few minutes of our time, each day, for Tehillim with concentration. Let us continue to add an extra act of kindness for another, or an extra dollar for tzedakah. Let us dedicate a few minutes of extra Torah study. Let us send the families of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali letters of support. And may we celebrate the light of their return very soon!

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