Sunday, December 5, 2010
Fighting fire with fire
I sat down to write on Thursday night, but I just didn't have the heart with fires blazing in the North of Israel and such tragic loss of life and huge amount of damage to property and environment. It is really heartwarming though how Jews really come together in times of crisis, the normal ideological divides disappear and we become one loving family. Calls from concerned family and friends locally and abroad pour in, municipalities ask for volunteers to take evacuees in, offers of help, financial and otherwise abound. It's a very nice feeling. This time around the sweeping and speedy assistance from other countries was also very nice to see. We discussed many things with the kids, starting with fires and what the firefighters do to put out fires, geography - local and that of the countries sending relief, the idea how when the Jewish nation pulls together the divine blessing comes down, we talked about feeling and trying to relieve other people's pain, etc. But in general it got me thinking about what lessons one can draw from this disaster besides the obvious ones. First of all, there is the significance of Mt. Carmel itself, where Elijah the Prophet, exhorted the Jews of his time not to sit on the fence, but to follow through with their convictions - if you believe in G-d than follow Him and if it's Baal you want, then go that route. In many ways Chanukah many years later drove home that very same idea, the Macabees against great odds, risked life and limb to follow their convictions and fight for G-d in defiance of Hellenism and all it represented. So to have a fire on Mt Carmel on Chanukah is a really forceful reminder of those two occasions in Jewish history. Another thought I had is that fire is often used as metaphor for passion. So perhaps as a merit to help us in the time of need we can fight fire with fire by trying to do the mitzvos with more zeal and passion, to be warmer to other people, to douse the fires of anger and enmity, to try and bring more light into the world and make it a better, holier place. What better time than Chanukah when we are busy with fire and lights anyway, to put that into practice.