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The Tenacity of Our Nation – Hope Amid Crisis


Since Shemini Atzeres 5784—what has become known as the infamous day of “October 7”—our beautiful nation, our Holy Land, our beloved Medinat Yisrael have been in the throes of a catastrophe on a scale not seen since the cursed days of the Shoah.  

The magnitude of the damage, the terrible and staggering loss of life and the existential threat to our State are well known. As Prime Minister Netanyahu said in one of his first addresses to the nation, “We are fighting our second War of Independence.”   

How can we, as individuals, as communities and as a nation, maintain hope and optimism in the face of catastrophe? 

I remind myself often of the words we sing at the Pesach Seder: “And it is this that has stood for our forefathers and us, that not one alone has risen up to destroy us, but in every generation they arise to destroy us, and Hashem saves us from their hands.” The truth of this declaration rings loud and clear. From Eisav to Amalek, from Pharaoh to Haman, from the Crusades to the Inquisition, from Tach V’Tat to the blood libels of Europe, from pogroms to the death camps.

Astoundingly, miraculously, beyond all natural explanations and reasonable possibilities, Toras Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael are alive, well and thriving. This alone is the greatest chizuk and hope for challenging times.  

My grandparents were all Holocaust survivors, and three of them had been married with families. Between them, they lost five young daughters in the flames of the Shoah. In his memoir entitled In Seven Camps in Three Years (published in the Yizkor book of his hometown Krasnik, Poland) my maternal grandfather Yitzchak Kaftan, z”l, wrote:

I still remember several names of those killed: Reb Yehoshua Asher Weinberg, Reb Peretz Feder. I remember my uncle, Moishe Markovitches, a boy of about thirteen years. Handsome as a tree in bloom—he was also among those who were shot, may G-d avenge his blood. Reb Peretz Feder and I slept on one pallet and talked continually about the murderers, that they were sent by G-d and that their end is near. We suffer now so that Mashiach will come. Whoever will survive this hell will see a Jewish state.

The faith of my grandfather astounds and encourages me and lifts me up in difficult times. As he lay on that pallet in hell, he professed the purest faith in G-d, His Redemption and a Jewish state, which for that generation was only a fantastic dream. A former student of Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, my grandfather wrote with emunah in Hashem and faith in the eternity of our nation. 

Miraculously, beyond all natural explanations and reasonable possibilities, Toras Yisrael, Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael are alive, well and thriving. This alone is the greatest chizuk and hope for challenging times.

A number of years ago, I attended a talk by the well-known Israeli educator and public speaker Miriam Peretz, whose two sons were killed while serving in the IDF. She spoke about the losses of her two sons, Uriel and Eliraz, Hy”d, the loss of her husband from a broken heart and her unwavering faith in Hashem and His nation. Miriam related that since the fall of her firstborn, Uriel, her personal statement is: “For your brokenness is as vast as the sea, who can heal you?” (Eichah 2:13). 

Though Miriam lives with the unfathomable reality of two sons buried just a few meters apart from each other on Har Herzl, she is a woman of great strength and tremendous courage. She draws inspiration from our sifrei kodesh, which teach her how to continue on with tenacity and an unbreakable spirit during the hardest times in life. Miriam said that the portion of Tanach that speaks to her the most is from Shmuel II 12:16-23: 

[When King David’s son was sick] he fasted and lay on the ground all night. Though the elders of the household tried to raise him from the earth, David would not rise, nor would he eat. And on the seventh day, the child died. And the servants feared to tell David. But David understood . . . and he said to his servants, “Has the child died?” “He has died,” was the reply. Vayakam David mei’ha’aretz—and David arose from the earth! And he washed, and anointed himself, and changed his clothing; and he came to the house of Hashem, and worshipped; then he came to his own house; and they set bread before him, and he ate. 

And his servants asked him: “What is this matter you have done? When the child was alive, you fasted and cried and now that the child has died, you have arisen and you eat?” And David replied: “When the child was still alive, I fasted and cried, for I said, perhaps G-d will be gracious and the child will live. But now that he has died, for what purpose shall I fast? Can I bring him back? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 

With her unshakeable faith, Miriam said: “After the death of his son, King David arose—he got up! I, too, go to my sons Uriel and Eliraz; I go to them on Har Herzl. I, too, rose up then, and continue to rise up every day since their deaths.” 

This is the tenacity of our nation, the hope of our people, the victory within our souls and the courage of a Jew. Even after all we have endured, through the millennia of galus and the horrors of October 7 and its aftermath, we continue to rise, with emunah, courage, fortitude, simchah and hope. We continue to build. We continue to do good. And we continue to wait each and every day for the coming of the Mashiach and though he may tarry, nevertheless we will wait for him with each passing day. 


Michal Horowitz teaches Judaic studies classes to adults of all ages, nationally and internationally. Her weekly parashah shiur, “Contemporary Parshanim,” is posted on the OU’s AllParsha app, and she delivers many shiurim for the OU Women’s Initiative.


More in this Section

Bitachon During Crisis by Rebbetzin Dina Schoonmaker as told to Barbara Bensoussan

How to Build Hope by Rabbi Larry Rothwachs

The Psychology of Hope by Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox

Not for Naught by Rabbi Dov Foxbrunner

Responding to Crisis: A Historical Approach by Dr. Henry Abramson

Celebrating Life in the Face of Pain: One Son Married, One Son Missing by Toby Klein Greenwald

Of Faith and Fortitude: How Devorah Paley Energized a Nation by Yocheved Lavon

A Laughing Matter by Carol Green Unger

This article was featured in the Spring 2024 issue of Jewish Action.
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