Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Jewish 911 - Emergency Help Line

Written by the Rebbe, Rav Michel Twerski, shlit"a, for Pesach 1991/5751
From Turning Pages (pg. 92-93)

America's cities have, in recent years, introduced a telephone crisis line "911" whose function it is to summon the appropriate communal agency to respond to any emergency called into its switchboard. A quick "911" call, thus brings out forthwith the fire department, rescue squad, police, CIA. federal agents, one of the above, or all of the above. The logic is obvious. It is designed to simplify matters so that but one short telephone number need be committed to memory, in order to call for help.

In light of the above, imagine for a moment what you would think of someone who, finding themselves in great danger, chooses nonetheless to "brave it out" alone. Let's take an example: a veritable inferno threatens to engulf one's home. The home's occupant assesses the situation and rushes to extinguish the raging blaze with a single cup of water. Ridiculous! Preposterous! Only the fire department can cope with a conflagration of such magnitude and even then only with the huge volumes of water at its specific disposal. The homeowner is a towering, bumbling idiot! Why? Well, for one thing because he completely misread the enormity of his danger. And, for another, his response was completely and hopelessly inadequate. Quite so! But, then again, how innocent are we of equally ludicrous reactions in less obvious, although commensurately serious, situations.

Let's go back a bit - all the way to the time our forebearers lived in Egypt, under the rule of a most unfriendly Pharaoh. You remember the story. For scores of years the children of Israel suffered indescribable persecution, torture and degradation, at the hands of the Egyptians. The conditions of the bondage deteriorate such that the curse of each day is greater than that of the previous day. Yet, nothing happens. Most assuredly delegations are dispatched to negotiate with the Pharaoh over violations of "union shop" rules, and protests are made with due solemnity. But the decline continues unabated. Workers are flogged, babies are murdered, and women raped. Nothing happens, nothing changes. Then suddenly, out of the blue, G-d remembers His people, and Moshe is ordained to redeem a nation from slavery. What changed? G-d remembered? Does G-d who is timeless and perfect in every respect ever forget, that He is then subject to recall? To be sure the very same brutalities which pertained at the moment of the Almighty's remembering, antedated that recall by many years. What provoked Divine recognition?

The answer lies in the words immediately preceding the verse which describes G-d's recollection - "and it came to pass in those many days... and the children of Israel groaned from their toil and they cried out and G-d remembered His covenant (Exodus 2: 23 - 24). Here it is - clear as a bell! For the first time in their centuries-long struggle, Israel dialed "911," and called upon G-d to help them. For the very first time, they understood the horrific dimensions of their plight and simultaneously the futility of responding thereto with finite measures. That's why G-d remembered! Because at long last, He was called upon to help.

The propensity to misconstrue a major conflagration for a tiny spark, and to respond inappropriately, did not end with our ancestors in Egypt. Every generation reenacts this blunder in their own idiom. The reasons for this strike far deeper roots than the issue of sheer vanity. Man is ontologically driven to assert his independence, and to try to take absolute control of his life. The desire to achieve these ends, frequently perverts judgement to the extent that serious distortion occurs in the processing and interpreting of information. We judge situations to be of far lesser consequence than they really are. To underestimate them, enables us to consider ourselves their equal, and thereby to foster the illusion that we can meet all of life's challenges unassisted and alone. The unvarnished truth, however, is that to indulge this illusion plunges us ever deeper into the deranged world of self-imposed servility, interminably oblivious to the harsh reality that no freedom - no authentic freedom - can be achieved without calling upon the only valid source of freedom in the universe - G-d.

Just as our national freedom did not begin three and a half thousand years ago until we made the painful admission that we cannot prevail alone, so also will our own individual march to freedom fail, unless we call upon our spiritual "911" resource, the Supreme Author of life, subsequent to the candid acknowledgement that our personal prisons surpass our capacity to transcend them. To the extent that each individual is the inmate of a prison to which he is inveterately blind, it emerges that Jewish freedom is a two-step process. The first step entails a clear and undistorted assessment of the enormity of our bondage. Having been so humbled, the second step follows ineluctably from the first - we pick up our hearts and voices and cry out for assistance. The road to freedom will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination but, once having dialed "911", help is on the way.

See "Enlisting Hashem" from the Elul series, where I posted more of the Rebbe's comments on this topic.

If you enjoyed this post, get free updates by email or RSS.

No comments: