When it comes to strangers, it’s almost easier to put on a face, act all proper, and do what’s right because they aren’t our family, thus Avraham could run to help the strangers. Yet, when it comes to our own families, we don’t feel it necessary to keep up pretenses. We sometimes say and do things to family that we would likely never say to or do in front of strangers, like Avraham telling Hagar and Ishmael to get out! We may even betray and hurt the ones we love, like when Avraham said Sarah was his sister putting her at jeopardy with Avimelekh. Further, we “sacrifice” our children and spouses by putting our work (sometimes 24/7), social media, and our own brand and needs first, and don’t adequately pay attention to what’s really going on with our families, their needs, aspirations, and troubles; for example, Avraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, his and Sarah’s only child and “the son of her old age.” We take for granted and even advantage of our families, because we can. And some at the further bad end of the spectrum, “go home and kick the dog!” Yes, the pictures that everyone posts on Facebook and Instagram are what people want you to see and think about them (their personal brand): that everything’s all rosy and they have the perfect lives and families, but I venture to guess that often, it’s far from the reality of what goes on “behind closed doors.”
All of us need to pay attention and do what’s right not only when we want to look good in front of others, but knowing that even in our own homes, G-d is watching what we do and how we treat each other.
If the husband and wife—with Hashem’s help as the third partner—create a peaceful, loving, caring, and harmonious home then they can have the likes of Shabbat all week long.
I realized why we say the blessing for the food before we eat and bless G-d for the land after we eat: before we eat, we don’t know how it will taste or whether it will sit well with us in our stomachs, but we imagine when we are hungry that all the good-looking food and drink will be great and so we bless G-d based on the perception of the coming food. However, after we eat, we make the blessing for the source of the food (the land, the food chain, and over wives for preparing it) for the sake of Shalom Bayit, because whether the meal was so good or not so good, we say thanks to Hashem and to our wives, because that contributes to Shabbat and peace in the home, always!
And what happens to us after creation? Life happens, and people suffer from the happenstance and the often harsh “nurture” of this world. Whether from disease, accidents, or hurt inflicted on us from others — intentional or not — we all have “disabilities” and as difficult as it is to live with it, there is no shame in it!
Disabilities are an opportunity, however painful and humiliating for us to learn and grow and for others to be able to demonstrate love, compassion, and kindness to us…There is no running or hiding from disability, it is part of our mortal world. But from the scars and suffering of life, we must create healing. From disability, it is our job to turn it into ability, capability, and mobility!
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “G-d’s Redemption Is A Promise.”
The Jewish people’s exile was only temporary and that is what G-d promised us. But the anti-Semites of the world somehow want to make us believe that G-d has forsaken the Jew permanently, and thus they chant “Free, Free Palestine!” and call the Jews occupiers.
In short, the worst punishment is not just being hurt, but also feeling exiled, abandoned, and hopeless. This is where we must look up to the Heavens for G-d’s salvation, and work to merit His bringing us back towards His divine presence. As with anyone who has experienced personal “exile” and suffering in life, we know those are the darkest of days when G-d’s face is hidden from us, and we may feel alone and abandoned. But G-d is always there, waiting for us to seek Him out and return to Him, and that is when we can finally not only see the light at the end of the darkest of tunnels, but also when we can feel G-d reach out to us and bring us back home again to Him. (Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
In summary, with regards to Israel, we must follow two important commandments that guide our relationships with the outside world. First, there is the imperative to love our neighbor and the stranger. Second is the dictum to wholly defend ourselves from our enemies who seek our destruction. While on the surface these may pose a contradiction, in reality, they do not, because if our neighbors and the strangers among us are willing to live in genuine peace with us then we gladly and actively will extend the olive branch in peace and brotherhood. But if unfortunately, our neighbors are bent on our genocide then we must fight them.
Love and peace is always what we want from the bottom of our hearts, but war is a necessity that is sometimes thrust upon us by our enemies and that we must absolutely, with G-d’s help, win.