Finding Happiness in Difficult Times | A Guest Post

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A guest post by Rabbi Aaron Fink (my father), Dean of Ateres Bais Yaakov on Monsey NY. Part of a weekly Dvar Torah (Torah “Thought”) series.

Parshas Pinchas
Yismach Yisrael!

The Baal HaTurim on Chumash is famous for his gematrious and relational analysis to common phrases and words in the Torah. In addition, he often adds subtle nuances of insight and observation which illuminate our perspective on poignant issues of hanhaga and hashkafa. These cannot be overlooked. One such subtlety is found at the beginning of this week’s parsha. It’s message is especially poignant in light of current events which have shaken the very core of the Jewish community.

The third posuk of the parsha details how in light of Pinchos’ act of kanaous, Hashem Yisborach declares, Hinini noseion lo es brisi Shalom. The letter vav in the word shalom is written with a break in its vertical length. It is ironic that the word which represents a sense of shalem, wholesomeness, is itself split and divided. Why? Chazal and the miforshei hamikrah offer many insights into this unusual requirement for the writing of the word Shalom in the parsha. One of the insights taught by the Baal Haturim points out that the split vav is the reward of the bris shalom given to Pinchos. It is related to the fact the Pinchos is indeed Eliyahu Hanavi, who will be mevaser the geula b’karov. What is the connection? The Baal Haturim continues to explain that the letter vav was taken from Eliyahu (Pinchos) (heini anochi sholeach lachem es Eliya Hanavi) by Yaakov Avinu. It was added to his own name (v’zacharti es brisi Yaakov, hinini shav shvus ahalei Yaakov written malei with a vav) as a mashkon to secure the arrival of Mashiach. Yaakov Avinu will only return it when Eliyahu Hanavi finally delivers Mashiach to Bnai Yisrael, b’karov.

This quixotic insight is fascinating enough but then the Baal Haturim adds a nuance. He says that this concept is the essence of yagel Yaakov and yismach Yisrael. Why? Yismach shares the exact same letters as the word moshiach. Furthermore, the word Shalom and the phrase zehu Moshiach have the same gematria. Clearly the Baal Haturim is sharing with us a deep concept relating simcha to our ultimate tachlis. Indeed, there is a profound relationship between simcha and our achieving the spiritual nirvana which moshiach will bring. The totality of shalom, true peace, an inner sense of spiritual accomplishment, satisfaction and tranquility, can only come about when we are being oveid Hashem, haMelech she’hashlom shelo, b’Simcha. Without it there is a divide in the shelamos we seek to accomplish. Though seemingly small this break creates a giant chasm separating us from our goal of shelamus, perfection. And at its worst, it wreaks havoc upon us, tachas asher lo avadita es Hashem Elokecha b’isimcha, as it fosters our national devastation.

Despite the sadness of current events and the impending seasonal sorrow of the three weeks we can resolve to help put the vav in the Bris Shalom back together. We must. The formula is the same.

How so?

Yismach Yisrael! Indeed, to reconnect the two halves of this vav, we must learn to be happy and relish the gift of goodness the Eibeshter showers upon us each day. That is the message of the baal haTurim. From the gift of family, health and to life itself, we certainly cannot take any of them for granted. Every moment of life, whether we are merely eight years or one hundred years old is to be treasured. How sadly we have witnessed that, instantaneously, it all can change. One broken vav can destroy a life and tear apart a family as it traumatizes a community. Being thankful to Him, feeling privilege to be doing His will and feeling excited for the opportunities He provides is one way to heal and reunite that vav. Look back over the past few days and see how a community united made that vav complete. Somehow we had a glimpse of a Moshiach moment as saw beyond that what divides us and reconnected to each other through and with a common mission and united sense of purpose. Find the joy in that unity. It is the reaction He is (kaviyachol) yearning for and it is a balm that we can use to wipe away our bitter tears.

Retain the images of a sea of humanity joined in unison. Kish echad blev echad. Consider always, that Hashem Yisborach took the time, so to speak, to consider us and fashion each individual and their unique combination of talent, personality and character, then we can surlely feel glad for the gift of life and hopefully use it well.

Through achdus we can connect and correct the Simcha quotient in our avodas Hashem. By so doing, we can repair the fractured vav of Shalom we so desperately need. It is our challenge and opportunity. Yismach Yisrael even when the sun is behind the darkest of clouds – Moshiach awaits us!

  • Anonymous

    … we certainly cannot take any of them for granted.

    Very nice!

    Shabbat Shalom Umevorach to all.