Contact Us

Alone

Alone

 Email

Alone, the last leaf falls, ripped by the unforgiving gusts of a fall wind, floating from its high perch to a coated forest floor. Before the winter chill when the snow falls as rain, it is the joy of children to run through the deep piles of crunchy leaves. Then the inevitable deluge of cold wispy rain arrives, leaving the gathered piles pasty, no longer a source of delight -- just proof of a coming winter, with its long nights and semi conscious days.

Winter often brings loss of hope. The grouch of the morning alarm clock compounded by the unlit sky. Evening commutes worsened by a setting sun. With no time to live during day, life turns into a perpetual dusk. We're as ambivalent toward tomorrow as we were towards yesterday.

Our sages tell us that our destiny as a people is seasonal and changing. There are times we will find ourselves exiled from the warmth and light of the land of Israel, cast into in a frigid world, unwanted, detested. Yet they describe a happy ending, an ingathering of the Jewish people to the land of their heritage. An eternal summer, waiting.

MADRID 1680, Auto de Fe

"Today, the apostates die!" Prior Menendez cries, as a cluster of disheveled men are slowly led through the violent crowd. They shuffle towards six large unlit pyres, each in a long frock splayed with a huge cross. "The justice of truth plays out today, deniers of our lord in their continuously nefarious fashion attempted to conceal their true beliefs! Murranos - pigs - prepare to die!" he shouts, as the dry wood begins to crackle. A wave of excitement runs through the electrified crowd.

GERMANY 1942 Mathausen, concentration camp.

A Jewish child looks on as his father's increasing gait turns into a run­­. The low din of an electric current running through the razor wire explodes in a ferocious bang, his father convulsing with the coursing energy. Hands bloodied. His eyes peaceful. Rushing forward, he grabs his father hand, the electricity continuing its path.

West Bank 2003, Jenin.

An Arab youth runs forward, a heavy suicide vest strapped to his body. The alleyway walls covered in the sun-bleached posters of already-dead martyrs screaming encouragement. His mother, a widow in a black chador, her lips moving to koranic verses, peeks on through rusted windows. A young Jewish soldier, barely a man, signals his comrades to advance, licking his dry lips he turns a corner. He never heard the blast that killed him.

Why is it, that when you pry into the winter we live in, into the unremitting state of disaster we have suffered as a people, you will find that unlike most peoples when caught in a vise, our response is never equal depravity? It is our ability to see a spring, though long in coming -- as inevitable.

This is the message of this week's Torah reading. Jacob conned once, twice, thrice, puts aside his father-in-law's constant treachery, never losing sight of his goal to marry his beloved Rachel, and raising the twelve tribes of Israel. Seeing the end, seeing spring in winter, is what made it endurable.

When windows frost and the TV blares a recent disaster, or you're otherwise beset by a more personal winter, know that one day in a near future the world will wake to the beauty of spring.

Yosef Lewis is currently a student at the Rabbinical College of America. He has previously studied in France and Israel and spent the last year as an exchange student in Vancouver, Canada.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
 Email
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Related Topics