We Jews are living this week between two significant holidays of commemoration. Last Wednesday evening and Thursday the Jewish world mourned those who perished in the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah. This Wednesday evening and Thursday we will mourn those who died defending the people and state of Israel on Yom HaZikaron.
The breadth and depth of the losses of the Jewish people in the Shoah (The 6 million plus 5 million others) and the land of Israel since 1860 (25,000 Jews killed with many more thousands injured and maimed) to our people confounds the mind and breaks the heart. It doesn’t matter whether we were alive or personally affected in our own families by the events that these holydays commemorate. Just knowing about them creates familial memory.
We are a people defined, in part, by memory. The good and noble deeds our families and forebears performed during their lives, upon their deaths, pass to us as zechut (merit), and we live in the after-glow of their accomplishments, decency and nobility, and we dwell in the shadow of their suffering and unjust deaths.
How ought we to remember our people’s history of suffering?
In the wake of so much tragic history, how ought we to understand our lives today?
What ought we do to emulate that which was most noble in their lives?
The Talmud teaches that miracles ceased with the Temple’s destruction, but since, miracles of another sort have occurred.
When we’re seen and heard for what we really are as Jews, is this not a miracle?
When we love our people and tradition fully, is this not a miracle too?
Now that the Jewish people has lost so many innocent and righteous men, women and children to violence and hate over time, what ought we to do in their memory?
We can speak in their place, and pray in their name.
We can do what they are no longer capable of doing and let our lives be an extension of theirs.
We can learn and live our people’s tradition, language and history since they can no longer learn, speak and carry forward the life of our people.
We can love and support the state and people of Israel because their hands and hearts have been stilled.
We can comfort others who grieve loss because they can no longer offer solace.
We can be happy since they can no longer laugh, love our children and all children because they can no longer love, and carry their memory and good deeds forward so they will be remembered and the world will become kinder, more just, and more peaceful in their name.
Zecher tzaddikim livracha! May the memory of the righteous among the Jewish people be a perpetual benediction.