A king once told his prime minister, who was also his good friend, “I see in the stars that whoever eats any grain that grows this year will go mad. What is your advice?” The prime minister replied, “We must put aside enough grain so that we will not have to eat from this year’s harvest.”
The king objected, “But then we will be the only ones who will be sane. Everyone else will be mad. Therefore, they will think that we are the mad ones. It is impossible for us to put aside enough
grain for everyone. Therefore, we too must eat this year’s grain.
“But, we will make a mark on our foreheads, so that at least we will know that we are mad. I will look at your forehead, and you will look at mine, and when we see this sign, we will know that we are both mad.” –Rebbe Nachman’s Stories, “The Tainted Grain”
Is this story not a frightening reminder of the world we live in today? The world screams at us, “murderers, thieves! Israel does not belong to you.”
Just 69 years after the greatest calamity since the destruction of the Temple, the leader of a major country, Turkey, accuses us of being worse than Hitler and says we are propagating a holocaust.
Unfortunately, we even find many of our own, singing along with the chorus.
The hatred of Jews has been openly escalating during the past three weeks, and today, Tisha B’Av, we once again painfully remember that we are still in exile.
Long ago, there once was a special place, not far away in Heaven, but down here on Planet Earth. In this special place, the Shechina (Divine Presence) of God rested. There, despite our human limitations, we were able to connect directly with the Infinite Divine.
It wasn’t just us Jews. The entire world felt this incredible and paradoxical phenomenon—that a humble human was able have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. We all felt so close to God.
But that place, the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple, was shattered and our world filled with darkness. Instead of being able to share the understanding that life is an opportunity to elevate the physical to spiritual, that we all can experience God in our everyday lives, it is those who would destroy us who declare themselves to be Godly.
The effect of the destruction of Jerusalem has endured until today. We are threatened by those who deny the existence of God and feel that our survival may jeopardize their right to pursue power and pleasure. And, we are threatened by fanatics who believe God cherishes death, and who use brute force and the threat of violence to achieve their goals of converting everyone to their beliefs.
And though it makes little sense, we Jews still have hope. Though our Temple may be destroyed, the pintele yid – the Jewish spark, the mark of our people – lives on.
It is still we who can look at the ashes of Auschwitz, and find the drops of hope upon which to rebuild. It is we who can descend to the lowest levels of hell, whether spiritual or physical, and emerge triumphant.
For this reason the Jewish People are eternal, because we define what life is all about. Each human life, and life in general, is something very precious, a gift so great that the Heavenly Angels wish for it.
That’s why on this day, we don’t only cry about a Temple that was destroyed almost 2,000 years ago – we understand that it happened and we mourn. But we cry even more because deep in our hearts we ask: What is this life I’ve been given? What am I doing with every precious moment? Am I using my time to come closer to Hashem and the Jewish people? Am I using my time to shine my own unique inner light out to the world?
For the last 30 years, you’ve helped the Breslov Research Institute to pioneer the translation and sharing of Rebbe Nachman’s words in English and many other languages. You have indeed been shining a light out into the world.
This past week, we decided to share Rebbe Nachman’s wisdom and light with people who right now need it the most—the tens of thousands of young men, the sons, brothers, fathers, and husbands, fighting for the safety of all Israelis.
These men are in tremendous need of great spiritual strength to carry through their enormously important mission. You and I know that nothing gives spiritual strength more than the prayers and inspirational words of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
To date, we have given out over 8,000 portable Protective-Edge, Special-Edition Tikkun HaKlalis. We also have received more requests for other books, so we have now begun distributing other titles to these brave young men.
And, we’re asking you to please join us. For as little as $1 (one dollar), you can help give our courageous brothers the spiritual strength they need to continue disarming a dangerous enemy and to keep the people in the Holy Land of Eretz Yisrael safe. Please visit our Send a Soldier a Spiritual Protective Edge webpage and give one dollar today.
Please join me as we rebuild ourselves, and rebuild our nation, in anticipation for the arrival of the Mashiach, and the arrival of peace, shortly and in our days, Amen!