Praying for Divine Protection, Light & Hope - Matan - The Sadie Rennert
Return to Online

Praying for Divine Protection, Light & Hope

Adina Ellis

If there is ever a time to bolster our emunah, it is now. Daily, we live as Jews on two planes: that of the world at large and the Jewish spiritual reality. We can assess our situation based on what we see and hear on the news and various WhatsApp groups, and we are also blessed with the privilege to access a level beyond that, a place of God- awareness, above nature. Both realities co-exist, and we can choose where to spend most of our time. In this period of acute brutality and cruelty, watching violence, hearing of evil, listening to scary predictions yields no positive gains. Such terrorizing imagery can sink us to a place of despair, anxiety, and crisis. We can choose instead, to enter the holy ark (tevah), just as Noah and his family entered (and exited) in the month of Cheshvan. Amidst a chaotic storm raging outside, we can find strength from within the haven of the holy words (tevot) of our prayers and psalms so that we can emerge stronger and with a renewed vigor to add new life to the world (see Bereishit 8:17, 9:1,7).

While much of the general population measures time by the secular calendar, we have the depth and beauty of the Jewish calendar which can provide much needed strengthening in these difficult times. The black day of October 7th, 2023 is simultaneously known as Shemini Atzeret, a day of love between God and the Jewish People. It’s the 8th day, above nature, after an entire week of Sukkot where God says to the Jewish People- “you stay one more day, my beloved (Rashi Vayikra 23:36, Sukkah 55b).” There is tremendous cognitive dissonance, truly incomprehensible when viewed from the limited lens of our reality. We do not begin to understand. Yet we can ask ourselves which headspace do we want to be in?

The month of Cheshvan is devoid of holidays and for this reason many attribute the name Marcheshvan, the bitter month, as a reference to this lack in celebration. The Chassidic master, Reb Chaim Meir of Viznitz taught (Divrei Elokim Chaim Sefer Devarim) that the name Marcheshvan actually comes from רחושי מרחשין- that the lips continue to move after much practice during the previous month’s Tishrei holidays. Cheshvan is a month of prayer, the saying of Tehillim, where our lips silently move, and we pray to God. These days, with the looming threat of sirens, rockets or worse, every outing, every drive out of the house in Israel is often accompanied by a memorized mizmor, continually moving over our lips.

Psalm 27 which was started in the beginning of Elul through the end of Sukkot is a perfect example of Rechushei Merachshin. He shall shelter me in his Sukah on the day of evil (Tehillim 27:5), I imagine the sukkah is still with us – the clouds of glory continuing to envelope Am Yisrael, still there from the holiday of Sukkot. Am Yisrael and all the beloved soldiers are protected from every side, above and below by Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Protected.

I choose to imagine our celebration after overcoming evil in our day, dancing for all my neighbors, friends and relatives who are enlisted, and the safe return of every single one of our innocent captives, all coming home to an outpouring of love and lots of baked goods and mothers’ hugs. And I dare to dream of celebrating with a korban shelamim at the beit hamikdash in Yerushalayim- And now my head is held high over my enemies around, and I sacrifice with shouts of joy and song to Hashem (27:6)

I dream of moshiach. I dare to hope. Hope to Hashem, be strong and He will give you courage, and hope to Hashem (27:14). Ani ma’amin, I believe with perfect faith in the coming of Mashiach and I choose to enter my tevah, focus on God’s Divine protection, celebrating the unity and love of our People, and singing Psalms as my lips move silently in prayer. Avinu, our father, bless the state of Israel, shield her beneath the wings of your lovingkindness, spread over her your Sukkah of peace. Establish peace in the land, and everlasting joy for her inhabitants. Amen (Taken from the Prayer for the Welfare of the State of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Halevi Hertzog, 1948).

Adina Ellis

Adina Ellis

is a graduate of the Matan Bellows Eshkolot Educators Institute. She has been teaching Tanakh and machshava over the last two decades, initially on college campuses and in Hebrew Schools in the New Jersey area. Since making aliyah in 2005, she has given weekly shiurim in Hebrew and English to women in her community. Adina has taught in the ALIT program and Rosh Chodesh seminars run by the OU Women's Initiative as well as in the mother-daughter "learn and art" program of OU Israel. She is known for her unique ability to facilitate in-depth textual learning along with engaging and relevant discussions. Adina lives with her husband and children in Yad Binyamin.