the secret of faith

Friday, 18 January, 2019 - 9:28 am

At the beginning of the summer I went through three weeks of waiting for an answer regarding something that was very important to me. As usual, my heart was telling me that the answer would be negative, or at least not satisfactory, and I was pretty tense and troubled about it.

My wise wife, seeing the pressure I was under, said to me: “You have three weeks to wait: twenty-one days, each one made up of twenty-four hours. Right now you have the choice of being optimistic or pessimistic for that length of time. If you choose to be pessimistic, then you and the people around you will be facing twenty-one days of tension and unpleasantness. And then, even if the answer will be positive, you will have gone through twenty unpleasant days, and one happy one. And if you choose to be optimistic about the results, you will have three calm and happy weeks. And then, even if the answer will end up being negative, you will have had twenty happy days and one sad one.”

She was right. The choice to be optimistic proved to be more than worthwhile, because the answer in the end was positive.

After Shirat Hayam (The Song of the Sea) in parashat Beshalach, it says, “And Miriam the prophetess, Aharon’s sister, took the drum in her hands, and all the women went forth after her with drums and dances.” Rashi wonders where they obtained drums in the desert. And he explains: “The righteous women of the generation were certain that Hashem would be making miracles for them, and they took drums out of Egypt.”

It was not easy to be optimistic in Egypt, while suffering pain and difficulties. It is not simple to live with the faith that things will be good when one is in the midst of subjugation, slavery and oppression. But the women of that generation chose to maintain their positive thinking in spite of everything, and even more so: in the midst of the bitter exile they lived with complete faith and trust that the redemption would come. So certain were they, that they had their drums ready. I can imagine a sweet child seeing the suffering of his family and nation and asking his mother: Why do you have a drum up in the closet? And she smiles and whispers to him: “Sweety, the day will come when Hashem will make miracles for us. We will be free of the evil Egyptians. And then, when everyone will sing and be happy, we will take out our drums and make sounds of merriness.”

So if you are facing a situation involving difficulty and pain, or are just feeling tense and burdened, it is a good idea to have a “happy” drum stored away, to look at it every morning and to smile quietly, as if keeping a secret: a secret of faith, the secret of faith.

Shabbat Shalom,


Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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