| LifeTakes |

The Humble Ones  

Yes, I conclude, it might be that we are the anavim, the ones who don’t believe we are worthy

Sometimes, on Leil Shabbos, when the meal is done, a sweet spirit takes hold of my children, and they continue singing. They push back their chairs and sing camp songs and kumzitz songs. They go on and on, harmonizing with each other, drumming their fingers to the old songs of faith and yearning and hope and salvation.

It was on one such night, after the dishes had been cleared but the candles were still burning, when they began singing, “B’sha’ah sheMelech HaMashiach ba…” I listened to the words and smiled at this poignant portrayal of the scene when Mashiach finally reveals himself. And as my children’s voices rose, my thoughts surged along with them.

When Mashiach finally comes… a small, cynical voice in me says, in a world as ugly and confused as ours, how could Mashiach possibly come? It’s a fairy tale. A song for another time.

But then I remember all the speakers I’ve heard, all the essays I’ve read. Each one asserting that it will be very soon, that the time is truly near, that the very fact we’ve fallen so low proves it’s surely time for us to rise up. Again and again, they insist we will be the generation that will greet Mashiach.

And I imagine Mashiach finally arriving, a lone figure standing on the roofs of Yerushalyaim, calling to the people. Anavim, anavim, he cries out.

But that makes no sense, I think. Why call us the humble ones? We don’t seem humble to me. Pictures and posts all over social media proclaim our perfection, the beauty of our lives and our lifestyles, our flawless outfits of the day, and our lavish tablescapes.

Then I think a bit more deeply, and I wonder if we’re called the humble ones because deep down we don’t believe in our greatness at all. Is every post we share screaming our desperate need to appear whole in our brokenness? Is it created because we doubt ourselves and our mission and place in This World? Is that why we have to shout, I’m perfect! so loudly and so often?

Yes, I conclude, it might be that we are the anavim, the ones who don’t believe we are worthy.

And standing from the Beis Hamikdash’s rooftop, Mashiach says, “Im ein atem ma’aminim… If you don’t believe me.” And I imagine myself standing in the crowd, disbelieving. Shaking my head and waiting for proof, unwilling even to hope. Depleted, downtrodden, drained from wanting for so long, from davening so hard. Achake lo b’chol yom sheyavo. We’ve waited so many days, so many years. Why would we believe that he’s finally come?

And Mashiach answers. “Im ein atem ma’aminim, reu b’ori shezoreia’ch — if you don’t believe, look at my light that is shining.” And I remember a shiur I heard from a wise woman, a teacher of Torah. What is this light and how does it prove anything? she asked.

You must understand that Mashiach doesn’t create the light, he is only revealing the light, she answered. He can only show the people a light that already exists.

The light he points to is the presence of the Shechinah, made visible by all of the many mitzvos we did as we dragged ourselves through this long, long wait. The light is our light, she explained. Each of our good deeds became tiny pinpricks of illumination piercing the darkness of galus.

Mashiach shows us this light as proof because we will recognize it. Because we will see our own deeds in the glow. And we will know we are worthy and finally believe he has come for us.

I think of this, and a chill runs down my spine. I imagine the small, good things that I struggle to do, the good things my neighbors do, that Jews everywhere are doing each day. Humble ones, who feel unworthy and unredeemed and yet they are still striving, still trying, still reaching for the G-dly light.

I think of how deeply I yearn to recognize myself in this great radiance.

My children’s voices soar and break. And my heart breaks with them. I imagine myself seeing the beautiful light of our salvation shining from a rooftop in Jerusalem, promising peace and joy and redemption.

Soon. Very soon, I hope.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 804)

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