“Hi Madelaine. How y’all doin‘ over there in the Holy City?”
“Well, it’s been another colorful and intense year to digest.
In one week alone we had Netta Barzilai, Donald Trump, and Shavuot happening.
Thank God we avoided a Summer war, in spite of the global forces of evil surrounding us.”
“And now you got your really silly season!
New Year repenting …….25 hour fasting and genuflecting for Yom Kippur ……and then, when you do eat, it’ll be in that cute hut on your balcony.
Not actually inside your house? Not even a little sandwich?! For a whole week?
Well thanks for all this stuff.
You guys in Yerushalyim are doin’ it for all us God fearin’ folk around the world.
Awesome responsibility…. [laughs nervously to herself.]
So thank you for that.”
To be living in Yerushalyim at this time in the history of the world sure is a super-natural privilege. And with this privilege comes responsibility.
For two thousand years, millions of Jews had longed and prayed for this astounding opportunity. And we are the beyond fortunate ones who are here, doin’ it, today.
When we pray, when we dance, when we mourn, when we walk the streets, savor the atmosphere, experience the cycles of sacred times and civic festivities, we are not just doin’ it for ourselves, but for all of those who couldn’t and can’t be here today. The sheer scope of this responsibility is enough to give the most sensible of us Jerusalem Syndrome!
Hillel’s famous words found in 3 Pirkei Avot teach me:
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? “
My own and my family’s needs must ever be my highest priority. Yet, if this is my sole focus, then who or what am I?
This principle rears its head in a powerful way during our iconic Yom Kippur prayer, Avinu Malkeinu. At its peak we plead:
“Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were killed for Your holy name.”
Our obligation to observe Yom Kippur 5779 in Yerushalyim is not just for our own sake, but on behalf of all of those who never made it. Who were born in another era, another place. Who gave their lives for the sake of being a Jew.
And then, as Yom Kippur ends, we prepare to party on behalf of those who are not here; to celebrate Succoth.
God commands us: “v’samachta b’chagecha” – ‘you shall be happy in your festivals’.
Surely then we must also be partying for our millions of brothers and sisters from the last two millennium.
As we cry and plead and dance and celebrate over the next two weeks, we are not only doin’ it for ourselves, but on behalf millions of others too.
Manic and miraculous and kind of meshugge! But a commandment and a responsibility no less!
Madelaine Black is a Creative and Marketing Consultant, copywriter, and coach.
She serves as a Board Director of Tzohar.