Friday, March 7, 2008

From Death Comes Life

***In Memory of the young students who perished on March 6th in Jerusalem while studying at Yeshivat Harav: Yohai Livshitz (18), Neria Cohen (15), Yonatan Yitzhak Eldar (16), Yonadav Haim Hirschfeld (19), Segev Peniel Avihail (15), Avraham David Moses (16), Ro'i Roth (18), Maharta Taruno (26). May their names be remembered for a blessing.***

I know there was a reason I felt prompted to listen to the CD that was in my car as I drove to work this morning. It is a teaching by Rabbi Akiva Tatz. He was talking about the binding of Isaac, and how this story is a paradigm of sorts for the Jewish people. Of course, we know how this relates to God’s plan of redemption. However, it goes a little deeper than I had thought of before. He was saying that in mysticism, the name Yitzchak (Isaac) means “from death comes life.”

Now we know that the concept of names in the Hebrew mindset is not the same as in the Western world. In Western thought my name has nothing to do with who I am. “Jennifer” is a nice name that my parents gave me and that people call me by, but it has very little, if anything, to do with my person (in Western theory). Hebrew thought is almost the polar opposite. So much importance is given to the name of anything – God (we even call Him HaShem, the Name), creatures, cities, and, of course, human beings. (It is interesting that I am going to a baby naming this weekend for a baby girl that has the same Hebrew name as me - Rivkah or Rebekah). In Hebrew thought, the parents actually have the chance to lay a prophetic blessing on their child by the name that they give him or her. The name of Isaac is no different; actually, his name carries much more importance than that of most people because of Whom his name is attached to. Think about it – we say, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Those must be three pretty important names if you ask me! (I won’t go into the importance of the other two names in this post, but maybe another time.)

So back to Isaac, “from death comes life.” Hasn’t this kind of been the picture of the Jewish people (including those who have joined from the nations) for the last five thousand plus years? From the exiles, to the Crusades, to pogroms, to the Holocaust, to the Intifadas most recently – there seems to be this theme running throughout history. There’s this cycle of suffering and rebirth. These are all physical, however. Think about the Spiritual side – the Suffering Servant, Messiah, (Isaiah 53) had to take this upon himself so that there would be (spiritual) life! Just as he taught, the seed has to “die” before it sprouts to life!

Bringing this all back to the reason I had to listen to that CD this morning, when I came into work I checked my e-mail. The first thing in my inbox was the Israel National News story (thanks Ellen!) describing the attack in Jerusalem yesterday. As I looked as those graphic pictures (be warned if you decide to click on the link above), I started getting this deep sadness….but then, I started remembering Isaac – “from death comes life!” Yes, we will remember the lives of those 8 young men that died yesterday. We will mourn for them and share in the grief with those families. I was thinking this morning as I was making my final Shabbat preparations in my house…”Wow, there’s going to be 8 empty seats tonight in Israel at the Shabbat table.” Eight mothers (or perhaps a wife for one) are going to have to look at the seat where their son (or husband) was sitting the week before.

All this strife and killing in the last few weeks, months, years…where does it end? Baruch HaShem (Praise be to God), it will end when Moshiach (Messiah) comes to dispel the enemies of Israel once and for all and the “sword will be beaten into plowshares.” There will be peace forever with King Moshiach reigning from Jerusalem, and it will be Shabbat for the rest of eternity!

From Death comes Life! Am Yisrael Chai! The People of Israel Live!

1 comment:

wendymom said...

Those eight empty seats...their hollowness will ring on and effect many more Israelis and Jews world wide forever. May HaShem bring his people close to Him and may secular Israel (America,and everywhere) choose this day to draw close to their God! Thank you again for a reminder to pray for the peace of Yerushalayim thru Moshiach.