Shabbat B’Shetach – no fear

Day 2 – no fear

For me today started at 1am. After a day outside in the heat clearing a space and putting up our tent as well as other setting-up activities, Pinchas and I were ready for bed pretty much right after dinner last night.

Sometime during the afternoon, a truck arrived to begin clearing space for the first caravan, which they are hoping to have very soon. The place is adjacent to where we are camping, where the new Yishuv is being planned. The sounds of the engine and scooping and dumping of rocks was somewhat loud, but we didn’t care.

Of course we were exhausted, but my mind was racing and I couldn’t sleep. Sometime after I got in bed, the truck stopped and I drifted off to sleep. I didn’t sleep especially well, waking up anytime I heard what in my sleep sounded like gun shots or shouting. But I did sleep. Until 1am, that is. When the truck started up again. As I attempted to fall back asleep, I pondered the idea of fear, the thing I knew was to root cause of why I did not sleep well on the hill last night.

Fear is an interesting thing. It causes static in our thinking process, interfering with our ability to think clearly. Even when we are spiritually connected, fear disrupts that connection. You cannot make good decisions when you are operating from a place of fear. We, the Jewish people must be very careful not to live from a place of fear, which is really what we’ve been doing for most of our existence. The times that we have not been coming from a place of fear are the times that we have experienced peace and prosperity.

But fear, which is a very powerful driving force is also contagious.
In Egypt, we are told, the Egyptians saw that we had grown into a great multitude and they were afraid that we would join their enemies in war against them so they subjugated us and made us slaves to preempt that.

After coming out of Egypt, even after seeing G-d’s incredible power and provision, we were afraid we were going to die in the desert so we kept begging to go back to Egypt. Could we not see? No, our fear blinded us.

When Moshe sent the 12 spies to check out the land of Israel, 10 of the spies were afraid before they ever went in and so they came back with a false report about the land, colored by their fear. In fact, we learn in the book of Joshua that it was the inhabitants of the land who were afraid of us!

This Shabbat we read Parshat Balak and its starts out by telling us that Balak, King of Moab, was terrified of the Jewish people because we were numerous. So what did he do? He tried to get a prophet to come and curse the Israelites, but it didn’t work. Why? Because G-d didn’t allow it. We had just obliterated the Amorites (see parshat chukat) and we were unified as a people.

Ah, unity. We’ve heard that word a lot over the past few weeks. Whenever the Jewish people are faced with difficult times, we have two choices, we can give into fear which interFEARs with our ability to think clearly and creates an atmosphere of every man for himself – disunity, or we can come together and defeat the enemy.

Today’s threat to our existence is no different from their spiritual forefathers. The Egyptians, the Amalekites, the Moabites, the Germans and the Arabs. More than hatred, they are motivated by fear. We must avoid the temptation to give in to fear ourselves and come together. Unity is where Hashem’s presence is.

So now, we prepare for Shabbat on Givat Oz V’Gaon and there is a sense of excitement in the air. We are not giving into fear, we are honoring Hashem by honoring His Shabbat and fulfilling the mitzvah of Yishuv HaAretz. We’ve had a lot of visitors today, a lot of people bringing food and showing their support of what we are doing. There’s a real feeling of achdut here on the hill.

Pinchas has been working on putting up the eruv Shabbat so that we can have a proper Shabbat. I just had a visit by a woman who saw that our family name is Tal Ohr – that’s her family name, too! She introduced herself. Her family lives in Migdal Oz, a kibbutz in walking distance from Givat Oz v’Gaon. She offered to let me do my laundry at her home if I need to.

I don’t have much else to report today as I need to get ready for Shabbat b’shetach – Shabbat “in the field” – no electricity, none of the modern conveniences. Only a love for Hashem, a love for His Torah, a love for His land and a love for His people.

Shabbat Shalom.


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