Don’t Be Afraid!

by | Sep 24, 2002 | 0 comments

There are definitely two messages of this holiday. ‘Leave your Diras Keva ‘ enter the temporary dwelling.- When we enter our sukkah we are exposed. Exposed to the world, to the elements, to the bees and mosquitoes; welcome to the holiday that celebrates golus.

And then we shake our Lulav and our Esrog. Not only do we shake the four species- we actually flaunt them. We raise them high; we point them up down and all around. Take your Arba Minim – Usmachtem Lifnei Hashem. We arrived in Israel, we plowed and we planted with sweat and with tears, we broke our backs, but here we are today “B’rina yikzoru” we harvest with joy. We have it in our hands. We can touch, feel, smell and eat our bounty. We are never so happy as we are on Sukos.

When we sit in our sukah we feel the pain of Golus, when we shake our Lulav we feel the joy of Eretz Yisroel. When we lift up our Lulav while standing in our Sukkah we get very confused. Who know what to feel.

Sukos 5763. Here we are again. Are we happy or are we sad? Are we excited about the fact that we have a State of Israel that has reaped a miraculous harvest both physically and spiritually. Israel is the most important distributor of Oranges, software and Talmidei Chachomim. G-d has blessed this country with success. Lift up your Esrog, your Bar Ilan CD-rom, your Rabbi – Usmachtem Lifnei Hashem!

At the same time we are all afraid; and the fear is so real. We read the news of a suicide bomber in Tel Aviv. Six Jews were killed:
Solomon Honig, 79, of Tel Aviv;
Yossi Mamistavlov, 39, of Or Yehuda, the bus driver;
Yaffa Shemtov Hanoun, 49, of Tel Aviv
Rosanna Siso, 63, of Gan Yavneh
Ofer Zinger, 29, of Moshav Pazael.
(Yoni) Jesner from Glasgow, Scotland.

We read of a plot to poison Jews in a popular cafe in Jerusalem. We cry; we can’t and should never get used to reading this news. We are sitting in the sukah with our Lulav in our hands. We are all mixed up.

What’s the message?

Al Tira! Don’t be afraid. Although Al Tira may not be listed amongst the 613 mitzvos of the Torah, it is in fact the most common directive from G-d to man. Hashem said it to Abraham, he said it again to Yitzchak and then to Yaakov. He said it to Moshe, to Aharon and to Yehoshua. He said it to all of us as we stood before a sea with no idea where to run. He said it to every Jewish prophet and every Jewish King. And he says it to us – Al Tira!

I often explain to my children that the object of terrorism is not to kill people but to cause fear and terror. People rachmana litzlan are killed but fear is an accomplishment of the goals of evil. Sukos is the right time to do what perhaps only a Jew can do. Do not fear. It’s not that we don’t have a roof on Sukos it is that we have a very special roof called the Shechina! Tzila D’Mehemnusa! We’ve got it covered. Whether we are afraid for Israel, for our children or for our lives we must remember we are sheltered by Hashem. We have Heavenly protection.

By Rabbi Yaacov Haber

Rabbi Yaacov Haber has been a leading force in Jewish community and Jewish education for over forty years. He lived and taught in the United States, Australia and in Israel. He is presently the Rav of Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun, a vibrant community in the center of Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel, and serves as the Rabbinic guide to many of its wonderful organisations.


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