As more and more terrorist attacks target Israel and her people in these days of ever-increasing violence, perhaps it would be easy for our faith to be shaken. But, in a beautiful piece by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Book of Psalms and Israel's historic and biblical strength provide reasons for our faith to grow:
What do you do when terror strikes, when all sense of security is lost, when you feel yourself surrounded by hate, when the voice of reason is drowned out by the clamour of rage, when all hope for the future seems lost and the world around you has turned dark? That, they told me, is how it has felt to be in Israel these past few days and weeks. And as I heard the anxiety and even despair in their voice, I thought of all those lacerating words from the Book of Psalms,
“From the depths I call to you, O God.”
“ I am for peace but they are for war.”
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
I heard an echo of King David’s sense of betrayal – “I said in my anguish all men are liars.”
Are there other words that can help us make the journey from darkness to light?
And as I was listening, I suddenly felt a voice, as if from the collective unconscious of our people, saying, we are Am Yisrael, the descendants, not just of Abraham the iconoclast, and Isaac, the almost sacrificed child, but especially of Jacob, Israel, because Jacob had one extraordinary strength of character with which he endowed us, his children. Jacob was the person whose deepest encounters with God took place when he was alone, at night, far from home and fleeing from one danger to the next. That was when he had a vision of a ladder stretching from earth to heaven, and said surely God is in this place and I did not know it. This is the man who, under almost identical circumstances many years later, wrestled at night with an angel, and was told his name would be changed to Israel, meaning one who wrestles with God and with man and prevails.
Jacob never lived in peace, but somehow he took all the fear and pain and loneliness and isolation and turned them into a vision of heaven and found God in the very midst of that place and moment of danger. Jacob was the man who rescued hope from the depths of despair, and who kept going despite his fear of Esau and of Laban, despite even the loss of his beloved son Joseph and who never stopped wrestling with history and destiny. This is the man who somehow endowed us, his descendants, to the end of time, with an inner strength that is almost beyond belief...