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Message of Support

Nissan 5773

Dear Friend,

As I sit down to pen these lines, Pesach is nearly at our doorstep. You are standing at the threshold of another Yom Tov, yet it is so different from what you had imagined. There is a deep void in place of the hopes and dreams that has overtaken your very existence.

As you picture the festive Seder table, with children of all ages seated in joyous anticipation, you are looking for that one angelic face that isn’t there. You are seeking the pair of innocent eyes that remain only a memory. How can you find that spirit of renewal which is so intertwined with the Pesach holiday?

Though Pesach heralds the beginning of the spring season, allow me to take you into the frosty depths of the Russian plains.

A select group of soldiers were put through rigorous training before they were to be admitted to the elite corps of the Russian Army. They were forced to walk barefoot along snowy paths for miles on end to test their endurance. Their backpacks were loaded with heavy weights and they were ordered to run carrying the burdens on their backs. Hours of grueling exercise followed days of near starvation, yet the hardy soldiers forged ahead. Some of them could not make the grade and they were dismissed from the course. By the time the two-year training period was winding to a close, only ten members remained.

“This is the last test!” the commander bellowed. “The last test before you receive certification.”

The soldiers stood at attention. Their goal was so close. One more test, and they would be awarded the highest rank a soldier could aspire to.

The soldiers were led up ten flights of stairs, to the roof of a tall building. They stood on the roof, surveying the panorama of Moscow spread out before them.

“Now jump!”

They looked at their commander, seeking the tight smile that would be their signal to laugh at his joke. No smile was forthcoming.

“Jump!”, I said

The soldiers stood at the edge of the roof, looking down at the ground so far below. They knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that jumping from the tenth floor would be fatal. There was no hope for survival.

“Kaschov, you first,” the commander ordered.

Kaschov looked down at the specks of humanity and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath and clenched his fists. His comrades stood at a respectable distance, eyeing him with fear and horror.

“Failure to follow orders disqualifies you from the course.”

Kaschov nodded, swallowed heavily and then backed away from the roof’s edge. “I can’t do it,” he whispered.
The commander grimaced and then motioned to the next soldier. “Yadgerova, you’re next.”

Yadgerova approached the edge of the roof. He closed his eyes tightly and…he jumped. A collective gasp was heard as the other soldiers rushed to peer down at their comrade’s battered remains.

But when Yadgerova passed the seventh-floor window, a net was flung out to catch his falling body. He landed in the safety-net with nary a scratch and peered up at his comrades in jubilation.

Several hours later, Kaschov asked the courageous soldier, “Tell me the truth. You had no idea that a safety-net would catch you in the last moment. How did you take the chance?! It was suicidal!”

Yadgerova smiled as he replied, “You and I both know how much money the Russian Army invested in us. This training cost them an astronomical sum. I knew that after investing so much in our education, they wouldn’t merely throw us to our deaths. This was just a test and I was sure that somehow, our lives would be spared.”

You, my friend, are experiencing that terrifying moment, standing on the roof and hovering over the edge of nothingness. Hashem is standing there, ordering you to jump. It is painful, it stings and pierces and seems as though the only way to go is down.

Grappling with the darkness of sudden grief, is it possible to perceive that safety-net concealed at the seventh-floor? When you are standing amidst the remains of shattered dreams, survival seems impossible. All you can feel are the jagged remains of a broken future, as they pierce your heart time and again. All you can see before your eyes are the pictures of what could have been but is no more.

Yet there is so much invested in you. From the beginning of time, Hashem has fashioned our nation as a whole and each of us individually, to serve Him as only we can.

It is but a short while before Pesach. We celebrate our nation’s redemption from the hands of the Egyptians. But let us stop for a moment and consider what happened a mere few days after that long-awaited redemption.

When Klal Yisroel were standing before the Yam Suf, surrounded by danger on all sides, they saw death. They saw the end. But there was one courageous individual, Nachshon ben Aminadav, who knew that Hashem would not allow His children to perish. They had gone through so many decades of pain and humiliation; so many years of torture and brutality. Their lives had been thrust in shadows for more than two hundred years. He knew that the pain and suffering could not have been for naught.

So he jumped.

He jumped into the waters…and the waters parted before him. The safety-net was spread out to catch him in his hopeless fall.

רוחי אפקיד בידך – He gave himself over to Hashem’s mercy and was granted life.

You are standing at the water’s edge, contemplating the impossibility of the situation. Pain surrounds you, and it seems as though tomorrow is shrouded in blackness. It is quiet – too quiet. Your arms are empty; they are aching for the future that should have been cradled within them.

It is hard to see the safety-net that Hashem has prepared to cushion your fall. It is painful to think of a tomorrow when you will have to pick up the pieces of your heart and put them back together.

It almost seems that the future is an illusion. How could the sun possibly shine on a world devoid of the joy that should have been yours? How could you push aside your vision of the morrow and replace it with the altered, throbbing version that must become reality?

But as you gaze down, if you look closely at the ground so far below, the safety net is there. רוחי אפקיד בידך – Hashem has provided a tapestry of hope comprised of people who know how you feel. People who have been in the place where you are now. Your safety net is strung together from ropes of care and concern. It is spread out to cushion your fall.

No one will suggest that falls are comfortable or even understandable. They are difficult, painful and piercing. But the safety-net is there. It has been spread out specifically for you.

You may feel alone, in a bubble of pain that separates you from all that is good and joyous. Yet the bubble surrounding you is permeable. It expands to include those who have been there before you; those who have been ensconced in its stinging grip when the ground was pulled out from beneath their feet. We have spread a sturdy safety-net within your bubble of pain. Reach out and hold on tight, and allow our concern to cushion your fall.

As Pesach is ushered into your home, you may only be able to focus on the disappearing rays of a vanishing dream. But as you clench your fists and look down at the ground so far below, think of that safety net. Reach out to grasp the hands of those who have been there before you, for their very existence bespeaks hope and renewal.

Chazak V’Ametz,
Wishing you a Chag Kosher V’Sameach,

Mrs. M. Klaristenfeld

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