Ma Nishtana - What has changed? This Passover, confronted with unprecedented drama, we may ask ourselves, "What has NOT?"
While we heavily rely on the media as our channel to the world, we can also turn our attention inwards.
What has not changed is our quest for Tikkun Olam - the mending of the world – that goes hand in hand with Tikkun Ha'Lev, the mending of the human heart.
Of all the stories that pour in from our many graduates across Israel, I picked a special one which I wish to share, since I find it most meaningful and inspirational in these times.
It’s the story of Misha, who was a young teen when he came to our Village from Russia. Around the Shabbat tables, through stories, we would "host" heroes from the past. Among those "guests" was the legendary early Zionist pioneer, Aaron David (AD) Gordon. AD's message was that leadership is defined by personal example, attentiveness to nature and a sensitivity to any human plight.
It seems that Misha was really impressed by AD Gordon's life story and influenced by his vision and ethos. He chose to live as a nomad in nature, a kind of biblical shepherd with an artist's soul (and, by the way, Misha is starting to look more and more like his bearded role model...).
When the Corona crisis began, Misha heard about an abandoned herd of 200 sheep, and immediately stepped in to adopt it. He found the flock penned in, hungry and sick, and proceeded to heal them, and lead them to the green pastures on the foothills of Jerusalem. Every day, from sunrise to sunset, in perfect seclusion, he relives the wonder of creation.
Wifi allowing, we have our conversations. While we are confined to the home, Misha's home is the outdoors. We speak about life, love and nature, about AD's vision for Israel and for humanity. As early as the 1920's, AD Gordon envisioned "a human people informed with the sense of human brotherhood, and whose attitude toward nature and all within it is inspired by noble urges of life-loving creativity."
The good news is that at this time of uncertainty, not only Misha, but more and more young Israelis are drawn to read, study and discuss AD Gordon's good ol' Zionist ideas. Is this the Tikkun HaLev that precedes a new era of Tikkun Olam? – Time will tell.
On this eve of Passover, let us all nurture our sense of human brotherhood and extend it to Mother Nature, to whom we owe so much. Even if the Seder table this year is not what we are used to, the Passover spirit of freedom and hope remains. "And it was in the middle of the night" says the Haggadah: after the darkness comes the light. This certainty we will continue to pass on from generation to generation – M'dor L'Dor.
Chag Same'ach, in good health and spiritual strength,
Founder, Village Way Educational Initiatives