Dear Readers,

If I had to choose one word to describe the suffering and unhappiness in our world, it would be fragmentation. We live fragmented lives.

We don’t see any connection or meaning behind the issues of our lives. We view people as separate from us, rather than as part of a unified, symbiotic whole. We view time and events as disjointed, with no theme or underlying purpose.

That’s why even though we may be surrounded by so much good, we can get upset by an insult, a thoughtless remark or something that doesn’t go as well as planned. Experiences in our lives that we perceive as “negative” become overpowering and cause such suffering. Because when I am imprisoned within the moment, I am unable to see beyond this particular event, this challenge that I am confronting, this streak of bad luck I am currently facing. These challenging situations are senseless to me and thus overwhelmingly painful.

Galut is usually translated as “exile.” But galut is not simply a state of banishment from our land or our inability to live as practicing Jews. In our times, we are able to physically live in Israel, and in most other countries we are able to practice Torah and mitzvot. But we are still very much in galut.

Because galut means being imprisoned within a fragmented perception of reality, on all levels: time, space, self and community. It affects how we view ourselves, others and all the events in our lives. It is our inability to see the underlying synergy.

Geulah, “redemption,” on the other hand, is seeing the wholeness and the core G‑dliness within creation. It is the perception of the connecting thread, the Divine force running through everything—people, places and events. It is viewing each event as leading up to a purpose, having a mission and a reason; and understanding that there will be a grand finale when all these loose ends will be wholesomely tied together.

That’s why the Hebrew word for “exile,” golah differs only in one letter from its counterpart, geulah, “redemption.” Golah is missing the aleph (numerically, one). It lacks the perception of Oneness, unity, wholeness, goodness and the foundational purpose of creation.

Without the aleph, we behold the very same world, but it is a world of fragmentation, restlessness and frustrations. Happiness and fulfillment are lacking since there is no goal, no past and no future.

Insert the aleph, though, and a context emerges.

Every mitzvah that we do draws down this aleph awareness within each of us, and within the world at large. Mitzvah means connection. Every mitzvah uncovers the concealed purpose of this moment or of this created matter, and thereby connects us to our Creator. It reminds us that we are here to serve an essential purpose, and that every experience is necessary and meaningful—even those that may cause us such distress—in bringing about a glorious future.

Chana Weisberg
Editor, TJW