Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “The Beauty of Tefillin.”
Like the colorful coat that Jacob gave Joseph to wear, the mitzvah of tefillin that G-d gave us to wear is also filled with spiritual color and the love of Hashem. This is in no way intended as sacrilegious or as trying to change our holy mitzvot. Rather it is an artistic attempt to see the tefillin in a new way that perhaps excites and bring Jews back to this important mitzvah.
Over time, as I continued to learn and grow as a person and as a Jew, I found much of my way back to Yiddishkeit and to wearing my holy tefillin with love and Joy. To me they are forever colorful and full of spiritual energy that are uplifting to me as I pray with them on for Hashem’s everlasting mercy and blessings for all of us.
Over the last decades since 1973, Israel has taken strong actions again to beef up their defenses and leave no stone unturned including taking the bold steps in destroying the menacing nuclear reactors of Iraq in 1981 and the Syrian reactor in 2007. Now Israel is facing a similar decision on action with Iran and their weapons of mass destruction. Israel and the United States need to leave no stone unturned in trying to find a path towards a peaceful resolution with Iran, but if that stone threatens potential annihilation of Israel and other western allies, then there should be no doubt whatever that Israel and other civilized nations must act once more to remove the threat and turn that stone into harmless dust again.
Whether towards peace or G-d forbid to war, Israel must be courageous to act and leave no stone unturned to secure its peace and security, or the ultimate defeat of its unrelenting enemies. Israel must be like Joseph, and be able to interpret the dreams and events unfolding before them, and like Pharaoh to make the decision to act and restore the meticulous butler, hang the negligent and dangerous baker, and save the nation from otherwise assured destruction. May G-d give us the wisdom, courage, and strength to do what we must eventually do and let it be for the good.
It’s interesting that faith and fear are incompatible and they cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. Just like the light chases away the darkness, so too does faith expel fear from our lives. When we believe that G-d is in charge of everything that happens, and that he loves us and ultimately wants what is good of us then what is there for us to fear?
No matter in what danger we find ourselves and no matter how scared we feel, we are not alone. The Master of the Universe is watching over us, waiting for us to raise our eyes to the heavens in faith, and to take a stand and do what’s right. If we do, then G-d will manifest himself to us and indeed “will carry, and will deliver” us.
This week was Thanksgiving (חג ההודיה), but for Jews we are already called, “The People of Thanksgiving. “We are named יהודים (Yehudim) after יהודה (Yehudah), the son of Isaac and Leah because Leah said (Genesis 29:35): “הפעם אודה את יהיה.” (“This time let me thank G-d”). Also as Jews, we are not just called the People of Thanksgiving, but we are actively supposed to say 100 blessings a day thanking G-d, so in the true sense of the word, everyday is Thanksgiving Day for the Jewish people.
Jews are the People of Thanksgiving not only on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. We are thankful for being the chosen people and for our redemption and return to the Promised Land of Israel; we are thankful for the life and opportunities that G-d has given to us; we are thankful in good times and G-d forbid, in the bad times; and we are thankful because, yes, ultimately everything from G-d is for the good.