By Rabbi Dara Frimmer
July 8, 2022 – ט׳ תַּמּוּז תשפ״ב
My phone lights up with a What’s App call.
“Eh, this is Liora. I’m calling about Madeline. She got a small scrape on her face.”
And so it begins.
The call from camp. (A lovely day camp in Jerusalem.)
The assurance that the wound is not severe. (It was not.)
And the closure: It happened. It’s treated. We move on.
As adults, we know…to live life is to risk being injured.
To love is to risk heartbreak.
To run – or even to walk – is to risk falling.
To swing is to risk striking out. (Yes, that was a sports metaphor.)
And still, for all the reasons we choose to love and run and swing, we *prefer* to move away from pain and from places that make us uncomfortable, where we know there is an intellectual or emotional risk of being hurt.
This is the privilege and power of being an adult. Sometimes, we get to choose the degree of risk and pain, and heartbreak we wish to encounter.
Two thousand years ago, sectarian Jews chose to live in the mountains as an isolated tribe rather than be confronted with the complexity of shared society. The early Zionist thinkers imagined a future Jewish state would protect the Jewish people from pain and suffering, and encouraged Jews to leave Europe in order to live apart, but also together – that they would find strength and comfort in a new land.
But, in every retreat away from complexity and risk, inevitably, one will discover and rediscover that life remains complicated. That the cost of living is that we are always proximate to pain.
Israel is now a nation of many people, with many voices. (And, like other nations, we include the voices of our ancestors and our descendants, and imagine the “vote” they might cast as we debate and decide our way forward.) The voices are loud. They are urgent. They are complicated. And, we can choose to leave the conversation, or we can choose to live within it.
For me, we’re in it.
And there will be heartbreak.
And striking out.
And trying again.
And there will be love and momentum and miraculous moments.
All of it together, in this shared society: loud and urgent and complicated and holy.
So, perhaps we surrender to not knowing how it all ends, at least for this Shabbat, and look at what is before us. Kindling lights. The fruit of the vine. A braided bread. A scraped-up face smiling in anticipation of double desserts as a reward for making it through. And perhaps, this space – set aside to celebrate creativity and liberation – will fortify and inspire us as we prepare to face inevitable injuries, challenges, and complexities in the week to come.