Among the many pieces of the beautiful journey that led me to marry Lady Charlotte is that my mother-in-law, Gila (Ronnie) and her mother Gittel (Ellie) were able to escape Germany in 1938, booking spots on the St. Louis, and after a few unplanned and challenging side-trips, make their way to America.
Among the many results of this experience, my mother-in-law became a fierce and passionate defender of Israel—not an option in 1938—and the importance of transmitting the lessons she received first-hand and role of future generations in preserving our nation and homeland. She was a passionate advocate for the release of Jonathan Pollard, has taught children in public schools for many years, and readily channels her gevurah (this week and every) into her expression of support.
Today, the 12th of the Omer, we focus on Hod she’b’Gevurah and Rebbe n”y wrote at the end of today’s midah post: “Rabbi Shimon urges us to see the opportunity in every challenge and test to see the potential that can take us beyond our definitions.”[i]
I got to thinking of the convergence of today being Yom HaShoah. Perhaps, Israel is precisely that bright light or glory that surfaced amidst all this darkness. And certainly, neither Gila nor her mother Gittel could have known back in 1938 the beautiful Hod that would be shining 84 years later as I merit writing these words.
What I am left with is that we are only around a quarter of the way through our counting. Now that we’ve reached a level of gevurah as expressed with Hod, how do we apply this in our lives or davening or mitzvot or chesed or elsewhere?
It may be that this knowledge of the light is a source of strength for us, whether we are aware of it or not; it may be that we can internalize this knowledge, and think, of it as we recite in the evening introduction to the Shema, that Hashem, “גּוֹלֵל אוֹר מִפְּ֒נֵי חֽשֶׁךְ וְחֽשֶׁךְ מִפְּ֒נֵי אוֹר”, “He unrolls the light before darkness and darkness before light.” גּוֹלֵל is such a fascinating word that it makes me want to play it. How incredible these are (to me) and how wonderful the Hebrew language:
מעגלגל (gal) — wave
מעגל (ma’agal) — circle
עגלה (agalah) — wagon
גלגל – wheel, or even rolling pin (!)
גילגול – reincarnation
So many ways to slice into this as we recite the evening Shema and go forward into our next day. What I really want to suggest is that there is an aspects of גִילוּי (revelation) in coming full circle, as well as the גִילָה (great joy) of completion. If we are feeling anything but hopeful that we can draw from this and apply this as we daven, as we interact with others, and certainly, as we look inward.
May we and all those seeking light and healing and a sense of enjoyment as we circles, or as Joni Mitchell described them, the “carousels of time.” (Circle Game)