The Jews have been through a lot this month. Those who haven't welcomed their sons, husbands, and friends home from a dangerous war which came to an untimely and even more dangerous end, are losing the shirts off their backs on the American stock market or are getting held up in their driveways in South Africa, rioted against in Paris or - well, any number of things that are happening today in our crazy world.
I don't know about you, but I have become much more involved in prayer recently. I once had a dream (a nighttime dream, not a grand MLK-style vision) that a huge projector played movies of natural disasters and wars in the air above my house in Texas. This movie, which was played around the world (in my dream) as an immediate precursor to the arrival of the Messiah, was meant to finally illustrate to the people of the world that G-d had orchestrated each and every war and natural disaster as a warning and as an opportunity for us to return to Him in prayer and loyalty. I woke up very moved.
Of course, as is the nature of G-d's less perfect people (and as you can note occurs to the Jews in basically every book of the Bible), this acute understanding eventually faded from my mind, and was replaced by the much more mundane feelings and impulses which we all deal with daily.
With the recent return of chaos and uncertainty to our lives, as I felt the welfare of the Nation of Israel coming into peril as my brothers went into battle against our evil enemy, I myself returned - to my better self, my nobler priorities, and my wiser understandings - or at least tried. Even now, as the world seems no less shaky, I try to drag and scrape my way up the ladder toward G-d, hoping to be part of the solution, and not the vast, shameful problem.
When I heard the news that a major natural gas reserve was discovered off the coast of Haifa, I thanked G-d for the blessing he bestowed on the Jewish People, perhaps a token of love and support as we trudged home from a war from whose battlefields we were dragged prematurely, by powers who know no G-d.
"How great is our L-rd!" I thought. "Who knows from what direction blessings can come? Nothing is too big for Hashem!"
I read articles, in which the drillers breathlessly predicted 15 years of Israeli energy independence thanks to the new find. "Baruch Hashem!" I thought. "Things are finally going in the right direction. Score!"
But Yitzhak Tshuva, the owner of many of the companies involved in the joint drilling effort, burst my gas-filled bubble with his statement on the issue. Thinking the nation was in a different place after the unity of war cast a new light on our country, thinking recent anti-Israel UN resolutions might put our place in this world in perspective, I was shocked when I read Tshuva's enthusiastic comments to Army Radio: "My golden touch hasn't disappeared," Tshuva said.
Oh man! How sad. And angering. What a fool, what a missed opportunity, what an embarrassment! What did you touch exactly, Mr. Tshuva, and how did you become so "golden"? And how do you know that it won't disappear? Did you create your drills, or the gas you found, or even your talent for locating it? How could you be so self-centered - and so wrong? How could you think that you are responsible for all this good?
It's sad how easy it is to fall backward. The Jewish People, as they struggle forward, are constantly victim to this particular kind of disaster. "I made all these things," we think to ourselves. We don't realize the amazing kindness with which Hashem treats us everyday, the mercy. Instead, we think we are big - until Hashem is forced to show us that we're small.
I pray that the Jewish People break this vicious cycle soon, for everyone's sake. I don't want to watch G-d's disaster movie play out here in the Holy Land anymore.