As we end another week after the horrific Pittsburgh shooting, parents, teachers and students country wide are still struggling with processing the event. As time goes by, the fear, worry and stress this event has caused may decrease, but the remaining question - "why did this happen” - remains unanswered. Truthfully, it is an age-old question that starts right with this week’s Parsha, Toldot.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks views this week’s parsha as the birth of anti-semitism in the world. His article is a fascinating read and can be seen at http://rabbisacks.org/courage-persistence-toldot-5779/ .
What is most relevant to us today, however, is how Isaac responds to the anti-semitism he faces. When his wells are stopped up by the Philistines he simply reopens them, consistently naming them the same names his father had named them, showing persistence and courage and continuity in his actions. Isaac’s name (He will laugh), given to him by G-d Himself before he was born is surprising considering the trials he underwent throughout his life; the binding, the anti-semitism, the challenge of being the first Jewish child and staying true to his faith and continuing in his father’s path. From Isaac we learn that faith is having the courage to persist through setbacks, never giving up and never accepting defeat. And ultimately, Isaac is the patriarch who was able to achieve the most elusive of goals - namely peace - because he never gave up.
As we continue to nurture our students and reassure them during these difficult times, it is also important that we keep in mind the lessons from Isaac. We persist. We don’t give up. We stay true to our faith.
Attached is an article by Dr. David Pelcovitz. “Coping with Loss and Terror: Jewish and Psychological Perspectives” provides insights and coping strategies to live by and learn from. https://www.lookstein.org/articles/loss_terror.pdf
May we all merit to live in peace even during these times of terror, loss and tragedy.