One Nation Under God, Indivisible–with Surfside

One Nation Under God, Indivisible–with Surfside
This past Thursday, I visited my daughter’s pre-Army-midrasha in the Golan and didn’t have wifi, so it wasn’t until early Friday afternoon, sitting at a hummus place in Katsrin, that I was finally able to check my phone and read about the horrific catastrophe that had struck Surfside.
Tears streaming down my face, I asked my waitress if I could borrow a sefer tehillim from among the restaurant’s collection of benchers and Rebbe Nachman books, I sat down by the fountain in Katsrin’s main square, and then read the next tehillim in line on the Surfside Tehillim WhatsApp group I’d just joined.
It was Tehillim 66, and as I wept I read these words:
כִּֽי־בְחַנְתָּ֥נוּ אֱלֹהִ֑ים צְ֝רַפְתָּ֗נוּ כִּצְרׇף־כָּֽסֶף׃
Because You have tested us, O God, refining us, as [a silversmith] refines silver.
הֲבֵאתָ֥נוּ בַמְּצוּדָ֑ה שַׂ֖מְתָּ מוּעָקָ֣ה בְמׇתְנֵֽינוּ׃
You have trapped us in a tight space, caught us in trammel
… בָּֽאנוּ־בָאֵ֥שׁ וּבַמַּ֑יִם וַ֝תּוֹצִיאֵ֗נוּ לָרְוָיָֽה…
we have endured fire and water, and You have brought us out [of that tight space] to abundance
And then I saw on the WhatsApp group that another woman had finished a tehilim and another and another. One from New York and one from Antwerp and one from Raanana. Another from Sao Paulo, from LA, from Manchester.
It was a remarkable feeling. To be sitting like that, on the other side of the world from Florida, in the upper-right-hand corner of Israel, in the middle of nowhere, and to find myself sitting with the entire Jewish people, with every single Jew who, like me, had felt a stab of shock and grief when they’d heard the news, and had been praying, yearning, grieving, hoping–in their own way and language, ever since.
May those under the rubble, as it says in that Tehillim, be brought out of that tight space (or, as Rashi explained in his commentary on that verse: out of that prison) to fresh air, to abundance, to health, to life, please God!
And may it not take another tragedy, yet another falling after all the tragic fallings of these past months (in Meron, in Givat Zeev, in Italy, in Surfside) for us Jews to know that we are one nation, under God, indivisible– as I felt so strongly sitting by that fountain on the other side of the world, in the upper right hand corner of Israel, in the middle of nowhere, but yet somehow in Surfside, broken-hearted and yearning with the families of those trapped and the entire Jewish people– waiting desperately for a sign of life.

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