היום ארבעה ימים בעמר
Today is the fourth day of the omer
A day of perseverance in a week of loving kindness
Today I chanted the haftarah for the Shabbat during Pesach - Ezekiel 36:37 - 37:14. I wrote about this haftarah three years ago when I first realized the vivid imagery these words portrayed of the Holocaust and the founding of the State of Israel--even though this was written around 600 B.C.E. You can read that post here.
While studying it this year, I saw an additional teaching. Three times in his vision, God tells Ezekiel to proclaim his prophesy. First, in 37:4, God says, ""Prophesy over these bones." When Ezekiel complies, the bones come together, get their sinew and their skin. Then, in verse 9 God says, "Prophesy to the breath." When Ezekiel does this, the bones come to life and rise. And in verse 12, God says, "Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said Adonai, your God. I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel."
This reminds me that while faith in the teachings of our people will keep us alive through the generations, we need to do the work. It is the prophesy we need to hear, whether we believe in God or not. We need to find those true leaders and teachers who will guide us through the rough times. I'm not sure who or what God is--that's something I'm continually working on. But I do know that the teachings of the Torah, the teachings of the Tanach have sustained the Jewish people for thousands of years. They have kept us alive and breathed life into us. As long as we can still hear them, we will survive.
And on this day of perseverance, I remember with loving kindness two of those survivors to whom I dedicated this haftarah today. Mitzi Wilner, z"l and Goldie Rassen, z"l--two incredibly strong women who lived through the hell of the valley of dry bones and survived with their faith intact. They shared their love of life and Judaism with me and for that, I will be forever grateful.