Dear Readers,

The Talmud offers a vivid description of how every night at midnight, the Shechinah weeps bitterly for the Jewish people who are in exile, and for our world which has yet to experience redemption. As part of our yearning for the redemption, we are meant to meditate on this.

When I became a mother, I began to relate in a deeper way to the notion that one who watches the agony of a loved one may, in fact, be in greater pain than the sufferer himself.

I once saw a haunting picture of a gaunt mother living in a Third World country holding in her arms a malnourished, wretched, wailing toddler. It was clear that her son was crying from hunger. From her vacant eyes, it was also obvious that the pain of this mother’s affliction was too much for her to bear.

At that moment, when I looked deeply into the dark eyes of this bent-over, young but aged woman, I almost felt like I was looking at a depiction of the Shechinah.

Though the woman was emaciated, her silent cries were not over her own predicament, but rather over her child’s torment. As he begged her for a dry crust of bread or a drop of water to moisten his parched throat, her greatest pain—more than her own hunger pangs—was in not providing his needs.

Perhaps this is how anguished G‑d must feel seeing our pain as we suffer through the fragmentation and trauma of exile.

But unlike the mother in the example, G‑d is infinite, all-capable and all-powerful. G‑d and can easily wipe away our tears, so why doesn’t He step in to improve our situation? Because G‑d chose to depend on our efforts and actions here in this world. G‑d is waiting for us to bring about the completion of creation with the long-awaited redemption.

G‑d relies on us since G‑d believes in us and trusts that we can do it.

And the good news is that since every mitzvah is eternal, all the work needed has already been just about done, with the many, many positive deeds that have accumulated since the beginning of time.

Maimonides teaches that we should view our world like a level scale, and the only thing that is missing to tip the scale in our favor is one positive action. And that action is something that anyone can do!

This week, we fast on the 10th of Tevet for the siege laid by the armies of the Babylonia emperor Nebuchadnezzar, which was the beginning of the chain of events that culminated with the destruction of the first Temple, and later, the second Temple and our subsequent long exile.

A fast day is not just a day of mourning but an opportunity for us to bring repair. It is a time to reverse the chain of events of exile with the power of just one positive action.

One act that G‑d is counting on …

Chana Weisberg,
Editor, TJW