| The Bigger Picture |

Strengths We’d Never Known

Let’s do what Yidden do, even now, even after, and after, and after again

It’s not the picture as much as the whole story.

For the better part of a year, there is a song that plays in my mind, one of those unusually perfect shidduchim of lyric/tune/singer.

“ ’Cause a Yid never breaks/and a Yid never bends/and a Yid never gives up in the night…” (Mrs. C. Neuhaus, “A Yid,” sung by Benny Friedman.)

It helped us through a difficult year of lockdown and restrictions and upticks, just when it seemed like life might open again.

Then came Meron. A yeshivah bochur told me how in his dormitory, where speakers had been set up in each room in anticipation of being allowed to listen to music finally, people learned what had happened and forgot about their playlist. In every room, only one song played.

“A Yid understands that Hashem has a plan….his Tatte loves him.”

Karlin. We were deep into unfathomable territory.

And then came Surfside.

This time, there was no point in trying. We’d been knocked down, bruised, and when we dared try to rise, another blow to send us reeling.

Again, that mix of an unfathomable cause, the utter powerlessness of institutions — structural code, firm barriers, engineering standards — the inability to string together enough words to create some sort of explanation for our children, for ourselves.

Okay, said the Jew, we are here for a reason. There are families we can help, so let’s raise money. There is kavod hameis, so let’s put our lives on hold to ensure dignity for every last victim. There is our relationship with the Creator, so let’s sing of faith and connection.

Let’s do what Yidden do, even now, even after, and after, and after again. Surfside brought us to the deepest part of this piyut, this hymn of 5781.

“We’ve got enough, just enough to keep us going, we’re holding on to unbroken simple faith.”

Surfside called for a new skill set, not the reactive emunah that comes instantly, but the emunah that is called forth when it’s so dark, when you look this way and that, but don’t see Father.

And a nation crushed by thousands of years of galus responded with chesed and tefillah and achrayus, the heavy darkness making the spark of light of this little nation, Yisrael, burn brighter.

As we whisper the prayer of tichleh shanah v’kileloseha, may the year and its curses end, we lift this picture and wave it high, like a flag, a reminder and a plea to see us deep, near submerged, in the א’שפת, the heaps of a challenging 5781.

When will you raise Your daughter from the pit? May a year and its blessings begin.


Yisroel Besser is a contributing editor with this magazine and author of several biographies.

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 876)

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