Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD
who minister by night in the house of the LORD.
Lift up your hands in the sanctuary
and praise the LORD. — Psalm 134:1–2
Thousands of rockets have been fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip over the last 15 years. These rockets are targeted at Israeli civilians and have made life in towns near Gaza a living hell. The terror of being woken up by wailing sirens in the middle of the night is something Israeli children will live with for the rest of their lives. Terror has brought darkness where the future had seemed bright.
Yaron Bob is an Israeli artist living near Gaza. After two close calls with rocket strikes, Yaron decided that he needed to express his feelings about the terror. What he created was spectacular. Yaron collected the metal pieces from exploded Kassam rockets and transformed them into beautiful works of art. He turns rockets into roses, candlesticks, and menorah lamps. In his words, “I take the Kassam, the instrument of death, and I change it, I transform it into something of beauty.”
Yaron’s art is symbolic of the Israeli attitude. We take darkness and turn it into light. As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once remarked, “They kill, we build.” Our enemies are bent on our destruction, and in this environment, we are determined to build – our state, our people, and our future.
Psalm 134 is a three-versed psalm; a short psalm with a huge message. It begins, “Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD who minister by night in the house of the LORD.” Who are these ministers who serve at night and need to praise the Lord? On the surface, these ministers are the priests and scholars who served in the Temple during the night. They would leave their comfortable beds and go to the Temple in order to serve God.
On a deeper level, these ministers are those who do God’s work in the dark times of our lives. When things are tough, some people stay in the comfort of their homes. Other people, however, go out and serve. As the next verse expresses “Lift up your hands . . .” The psalmist is reminding us to lift our hands in service of God even in the middle of the night. Praise Him and serve Him, turning the darkness into light.
Yaron Bob’s art says it all. Ugliness can be turned into beauty and darkness into light. But it takes willingness on our part to leave our comfort zones and venture into the “God-zone.” We need to be willing to speak when others are quiet and act when others won’t. The psalmist ends with a blessing for those who are willing to minister all through the dark night: “May the LORD bless you from Zion . . .” (v.3). May it be so!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President