Rabbi’s Corner

Rabbi’s Corner: In modern times, is peace and harmony possible?

Benzion Shemtov

Many times we wonder: What is happening with the tranquility of this world? Where has it gone? Do peace and harmony reside in the spiritual realms while our world is destined to live with hardships and troubles?

The fifth Chabad Rebbe lived in the early 1900s. One of his disciples, a merchant from a faraway town, would travel to him seeking guidance, inspiration and spiritual strength. Once a year he would receive a private audience with the Rebbe and upon arriving in town, he would change his clothes. He would dress in his Shabbat best in respect for the Rebbe. He did not want to appear before the Rebbe in his work clothes. Suddenly it dawned on him, “the Rebbe knows who I am and what I do. I am simply fooling myself each time I change.” For the next audience, he decided to wear his normal attire. The Rebbe looked disappointed when the merchant entered his room. “Until now, when you dressed up for me, I thought you were struggling with your identity, that you were looking to achieve spiritual growth and that you were a merchant simply as means of income. Now I see that your main focus is your income.”

We are currently observing the “Three Weeks” — a period of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple. During mourning, we are at our lowest point, empty and powerless. It is just four months since Passover when we experienced the opposite — freedom, when we celebrated one of the highlights of Jewish history with family and friends. The Hebrew letter corresponding to the number four is daled. The Hebrew word “daled” means destitution. Yet the hope and ambition to rebuild is what gives us strength to overcome all these hardships. Focusing on the good times will bring about happiness and joy in our lives.

The destruction of the Holy Temple took place over 2,000 years ago. The Jewish people at the time felt truly fragmented and confused. When we remembered to don our “Shabbat best” and recognize that the true purpose of our lives is to overcome the hardships, we were able to conquer these feelings. We all feel “destitution” at times, when life deals us a hard hand. We need our personal redemptions where we leave our limitations and focus on happiness and joy. This will help us serve G-d with joyfulness and bring about the final redemption with Moshiach speedily in our days.

Chabad of Cochise County serves Sierra Vista and the surrounding area.