As the Jewish community is still in shock from the largest massacre of Jews in American history, we turn as always to our timely and timeless Torah for guidance and direction on how to live our lives.
Indeed, the word “Torah” means “directive.” As Maimonides writes, the belief that the Torah comes from G-d is one of the 13 principles of the Jewish faith. Just as G-d is eternal and not constrained to time and space, so too is the work of G-d — our holy Torah — relevant at all times and circumstances. As the Rabbi Shnuer Zalmen (founder of the Chabad movement and affectionately referred to as the Alter Rebbe) famously stated, “One has to live with the times,” referring to the weekly Torah portion.
In parshat Toldot (meaning “offspring”), we read about Abraham’s offspring, Yitzchok-Isaac. Relative to the other patriarchs, we know relatively little about the life of Yitzchok. What we do know is that he was a well- digger.
The Chasidic masters explain that digging wells wasn’t just a hobby or a means of making a living for Isaac; rather, to dig a well, one is required to remove earth, dirt and rocks to uncover living water. So, too, we as Jews must be well-diggers to uncover the good that is concealed in everyone.
As Yitzchok goes about digging wells, he experiences what the Jewish people have throughout our history — opposition and strife.
Yitzchok is undeterred and proceeds to dig another set of wells. When this is also disputed, he digs a third set to which there is no opposition, calling the place Rechovot, which is the city of Rochevot in Israel till today.
The lesson that we learn is that when faced with opposition, strife and tragedy, in addition to meaningful tributes of vigils, moments of silence and gatherings, it is incumbent to build and grow. When the holiness of a synagogue is defiled in the worst possible way, we must build more synagogues and make sure they are filled. Eleven precious souls will never go to a shul again. Perhaps each of us should strive to get an additional 11 precious souls to fill their place by attending synagogue, Torah classes or doing an additional mitzvah. JN
Rabbi Laib Blotner is the co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Mesa.