Shanah is the Hebrew word for year. But it also means to repeat, to do again. This is because Jewish tradition teaches that time isn't linear, it is cyclical. It carries with it potential for positive and negative manifestations. Events that happened during a certain time have greater potential to repeat themselves during that specific time. And every season, every month, every holiday comes along with opportunities for growth as well as obstacles to overcome.
We are all still shaking from the tragedy that happened last week when 5 righteous men were brutally slaughtered in Jerusalem, including 3 Rabbis, one of them, Rav Moshe Twerski, having played a very major role in my life.
This morning, as I was looking back at old articles that I have written, I was surprised to discover that what I had written two years ago, precisely this time of year, when Rosh Chodesh (the beginning of the month of) Kislev also fell out on the week of Thanksgiving, was exactly the message that I needed to hear today.
The article was written when Operation Pillar of Defense was going on in Israel, after I had read on the news about the deaths of three holy souls that were killed in a rocket attack in Kiryat Malachi- on a Tuesday, just like this year. One of them was a 25-year-old mother who was involved in Jewish educational efforts in India. Another was IDF Corporal Yosef Fartuch. The words and the tone of the article could have simply been cut and pasted to today’s date and be completely appropriate.
Though it saddened me that we are in mourning once again, it reminded me that just as the year takes us through highs and lows, so does history. And just as we mourn our losses, we can’t forget that Hashem is watching over us, bringing the final redemption closer with every tear that falls.
So, I would like to share with you once again my Kislev-Thanksgiving message from 2012:
The Jewish month of Kislev is all about miracles. The theme of the month is giving thanks to God, praising Him for the miracles we have experienced throughout history and the miracles that happen every single day, no matter how hidden they are.
Kislev is a time when one of the greatest wars ever fought by our people occurred. Against all odds, the Maccabees defeated the Greeks and ended the persecution and suffering that the Jews of the land of Israel were facing. Today, as we are all filled with concern for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and in pain over the lives that have been lost, we all must find inspiration and hope in the fact that this time of year is infused with the potential to see great miracles.
It is often difficult to see miracles during dark times. Fear and sadness tend to overshadow our ability to properly see the hand of God. But despite the rockets falling or the terror that has become the norm on the streets of Israel, we can't forget that God is watching over His children. How grateful must we be that with thousands of rockets being fired at Israel, only a handful landed in urban areas!
And when, God forbid, we hear that there were casualties, like those of last Tuesday, we must also remember that when a Jewish life is taken away from us in such a tragic way, these neshamot return to their Creator holy and pure and provide protection for the rest of our people.
This weekend many of us will be spending time with our loved ones. In the spirit of the day, we will likely focus on many of the gifts that we have in our life. Let's not forget the words of our Sages, who teach us that we must not only bless God for the good in our lives, but also when times are difficult. Even when things seem bad, we bless God for the small miracles and remind ourselves that even in pain, our Father in Heaven hasn't forsaken us. He has a plan. After the past few weeks, we are certainly so much closer to finding out what that plan is.