A Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Toldot 5784 Reflections on the March for Israel

Tidbit of Torah – Parshat Toldot 5784
Reflections on the March for Israel

Chazak, Chazak, V’nitchazek. Many will recognize this formula which is recited both by the congregation and the Torah reader upon the completion of reading a book of the Torah. It was also the impetus for the answer I gave when someone on the bus to the March for Israel asked me why I felt the need to go. My answer was the single Hebrew word, “Chizuk”, emergent from the Hebrew word Chazak, means “to give strength and support to someone else”. “Chizuk” captures the multivalent reasons why I was travelling to Washington on Tuesday, and why I had done so in the past.

On its most basic level, “Chizuk” is an expression of support and encouragement we give to others. Simultaneously, I also receive “Chizuk” from the multitudes standing around me, a palpable and powerful reminder that none of us stands alone.

“Chizuk” is why in December 1987, I, amidst 250,000 Jews, filled the National Mall, demanding that millions of Russian Jews be allowed to leave and that the American president pressure the Soviet premier to make that happen.

“Chizuk” is why 15 years later, in 2002, we gathered again, 100,000 strong to support Israel during a wave of suicide bombings marking the Second Intifada.

“Chizuk” is why Jodi, Sarah (age 1) and I, were on the National Lawn for the Million Mom March on Mother’s Day 2000 calling for stricter gun control.

“Chizuk” is why 2006 found me in DC again surrounded by thousands at one of almost 20 events demonstrating against the genocide in Darfur.

“Chizuk” is why we came from across the country Tuesday, close to 300,000 of us.

We came to give “Chizuk”, to support the State of Israel as it faces a murderous and implacable foe; to stand in solidarity with our Israeli brothers and sisters in a moment of crisis and tragedy; to pray that those kidnapped by Hamas feel our concern for them even as we demand the return of the hostages; to strengthen the resolve of our elected leaders to continue their efforts on behalf of Israel and demand their action to combat the antisemitism spreading through the country and exploding on college campuses; and to receive “Chizuk”, to encourage each other to be resolute in facing the challenges before us.

Natan Sharansky, speaking on Tuesday, reflected on the 1987 demonstration to free Soviet Jews, and reminded us that, “the real power we Jews have emerges when we are united. United doesn’t mean we are of the same opinion… Different opinions or different organizations doesn’t mean we can’t be together in the same struggle.”

This week we united to give and receive Chizuk. May we continue to do in the days ahead.

Shabbat Shalom –

Rabbi David M. Eligberg

For those who were unable to be in Washington or watch the Livestream of the march for Israel, the video is available on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yjKWGaVQ00&t=3222s
Amongst the more powerful moments for me were:

  • Dr. Mijal Bitton, a Fellow and Instructor at The Shalom Hartman Institute at @53 minutes
  • Rachel Goldberg, mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin at @2hours, 10minutes
  • Maccabeats leading everyone in the prayer Achenu Kol Beit Yisrael, a prayer for the whole house of Israel in a time of distress at @2hours, 18minutes
  • This is followed by Mattisyahu performing a song of hope, One Day
  • Anila Ani, Pakistani American Muslim, Women’s Rights Activist at @2hours, 50minutes

If you decide to scroll through for these highlights, take note as you go by the two separate bi-partisan and bi-cameral moments, complete with handholding at @1 hour, 49 minutes

Musical Moment – Toldot

At the heart of this week’s Torah portion is the rivalry between twin brothers, Jacob and Esau. Their struggles will divide the family and leave the two brothers estranged. In a few weeks, we will read how they find a small measure of reconciliation. This week’s musical moments, both from Israel, look forward to a time of true peace and harmony for the descendants of these brothers.

All Will Be Good – David Broza

Broza explains how this, his first song, captured the hopefulness engendered by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Israel, the stanza he added later and the hope for peace yet to be realized.
I look out of the window
and it makes me very sad,
Spring has left
who knows when it will return.
The clown has become a king
the prophet has become a clown
and I have forgotten the way
but I am still here

And all will be good
yes, all will be good

Though I sometimes break down
but this night
oh, this night,
I will stay with you.

Children wear wings
and fly off to the army
and after two years
they return without an answer.
People live under stress
looking for a reason to breathe
and between hatred and murder
they talk about peace.

And all will be good…

(Yes) up there in the sky
clouds are learning how to fly
and I look up
and see a hijacked airplane.
A government of generals
divide the land,
to what’s theirs and ours
and we do not know
when will we see the end?

We will yet learn to live together
between the groves of olive trees
children will live without fear
without borders, without bomb-shelters
on graves grass will grow,
for peace and love,
one hundred years of war
but we have not lost hope.

And all will be good…

I look out of my window
maybe it has/will come
a new day

Here comes the prince of Egypt
oh how I rejoiced for him
there are pyramids in (our) eyes
and peace in his pipe
and we said let’s complete (it)
and we’ll live as brothers
and he then said (let’s) advance,
just go out from the territories.

There Must Be Another Way – Achinoam Nini (Noa) & Mira Awad
Jewish-Israeli singer Achinoam Nini (Noa) and Israeli-Arab singer Mira Awad presented this song as Israel’s entry to the Eurovision song contest in 2009. They, along with Gil Dor, wrote the lyrics and music as a strong political message to both sides and to the world of the need to emphasize hope and understanding through common humanity. The singers describe “There Must Be Another Way” not as a song of peace, but as a simple call to respect the humanity of others. Their first duet together was a version of the Beatles classic ”We Can Work It Out” in 2002.

There must be another,
Must be another way

Enayich achot,
kol ma shelibi mevakesh omrot
Avarnu ad ko derech aruka,
derech ko kasha yad beyad

Vehadma’ot zolgot zormot lashav,
ke’ev lelo shem
Anchnu mechakot
rak layom sheyavo acharey

There must be another way
There must be another way

There must be another,
Must be another way

عيعينيك بتقول
Enayich omrot
راح ييجي يوم وكل الخوف يزول
Yavo hayom 
shebo kol hapachad ye’alem
بعينيك اصرا
Be’enayich nechishut
انه عنا خيار
Shekayemet ha’efsharut
نكمل هالمسار
Lehamshich et haderech
مهما طال
Kama shete’arech
انه ما في عنوان وحيد للاحزان
Mishum she’en ktovet achat latza’ar
بنادي للمدى, للسما العنيده
Ani koret lamerchavim ha’ikshim

There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another,
Must be another way

Derech aruka na’avor,
derech ko kasha
yachad el ha’or
عينيك بتقول
Enayich omrot
كل الخوف يزول
Kol hapachad ye’alem

And when I cry, I cry for both of us

My pain has no name
And when I cry, I cry to the merciless sky and say:
There must be another way

Vehadma’ot zolgot,
zormot lashav,
ke’ev lelo shem
Anchnu mechakot rak layom sheyavo acharey.

There must be another way
There must be another way
There must be another
Must be another way

CHAZAK AMENU: WE STAND AS ONE from the CD “Voices for Israel”

This was written by several Israeli artists and then performed by an even larger group during the Second Intifada. Its message resonates powerfully today.

Another siren wails
Just an ordinary day
Was it anyone I know?
How can life go on this way?
Chazak v’nitchazak
We sing the words out loud
To strengthen one another
Together standing proud

Chazak chazak
We stand as one
Chazak chazak
We must be strong
Chazak chazak
We will go on
Ya’aseh shalom

Chazak v’nitchazak
B’ad amenu
Uv’ad arei Elokeinu
Chazak v’nischazak
B’ad amenu
U’l’ma’an arei Elokeinu

Oseh shalom bimromav
Hu ya’aseh shalom
Aleinu v’al kol Yisrael
V’imru Amen
V’imru Amen!

Be brave be strong
Kulanu kol echad
Be brave be strong
Tzarich lihyot chazak
Be brave be strong
Namshich l’ha’amin
One heart, one soul
Chazak chazak

​​​​​​​Oseh shalom bimromav…