Alone, But Not Lonely

Thursday, 30 November, 2023 - 3:43 pm

A recurring theme that we are hearing over the 7 weeks since the October 7 attacks in Israel, is that Jewish people are feeling a sense of aloneness. There are many, and I reemphasize many, people who are supportive and empathetic towards Jewish people and the Israel situation. In that sense we are not lonely. But we are alone. Even our best friends and supporters, who truly empathize with us over this situation, cannot really wrap their minds around the depth and degree to which these attacks have touched us. The deep visceral reaction that Jews have to the events since that Simchat Torah morning, is not something relatable to most people.

Why is it that events in a locale 6,000 miles away affect us so deeply? Even if that is our ancestral land and place of our heritage, why are we so inexorably linked to what is happening there? Especially since for many of us, the last time our ancestors lived there was 1,800 years ago. Many ethnic groups care about what happens in the land of their origin, but for it to turn your world over, and 1,800 years later?

In this week’s Parsha we read about our patriarch Yaakov. On his way to Israel after 20 years in Charan, faced with the prospect of confronting his brother who hated him, he returns to a previous encampment to pick up some forgotten housewares. The Torah states: “Jacob remained alone, and a man (angel) wrestled with him until daybreak.” The Midrash explains that Yaakov’s “aloneness” echoes another verse that employs the same term. (Isaiah 2:11) “the L-rd shall be exalted alone on that day.” G-d is alone. Jacob is alone. In fact, Baalam, the hated sorcerer and enemy of the Jewish people, refers to the people of Israel in his curse that turned into a blessing, as “a nation that dwells alone.”

We are not lonely. We have many friends and good people of all nations that stand with us. But we are alone. Our experience cannot be understood by others because it is not explicable. Our connection to Israel, our G-d, our Torah, and each other, cannot be explained by sociologists because it defies rationalization.

There is something so deep-seated in the core-essence of our identity that compels us to connect to our G-d, our faith, our land, and our people, or risk being haunted by our disconnect at a moment when we least expect it. At times it is dormant. But there are moments where it comes flying to the forefront of our awareness with a power that we didn’t know was possible. When we forget about our core-essence, our enemies are happy to remind us about it by demonstrating that to them, a Jew is a Jew no matter what they observe or claim to believe.

We are living in unique times. The heart of the Jewish people is awakened. The core-essence of the Jewish identity is on powerful display. Let us seize the moment and see to it that every Jew has the opportunity to connect to their identity in practical everyday ways. (See the action plan below.) 

We pray for the day about which Isaiah declared “They shall neither harm nor destroy on all My holy mount, for the land shall be full of knowledge of the L-rd as water covers the seabed.”

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Action Plan Highlights
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Add your Mitzvah today!

· Tefillin: Please visit Chabad Uptown or Chabad Metairie and lay Tefillin or reach out to have someone come by with Tefillin. If you have Tefillin, put them on daily and offer to share them with other Jewish males over Bar Mitzvah.

· Shabbat Candles: Ladies and girls, you have the power of light in your hands. Light Shabbat candles before sunset on Friday (this week at 4:42 pm). If you need or know someone that needs Shabbat candles, let us know and we will get a package to them.

· Mezuzah: Put a Mezuzah on the door of your home, or check the existing ones to make sure they are valid. Reach out to us if you need a Mezuzah or help checking the ones you have up.

· Tzedakah: is a great resource to get funds directly to the organizations on the ground in Israel helping with the war effort. There are many other reputable organizations raising funds as well, see for the Federation’s initiatives. The main thing is to offer our support.

· Pray: Chabad Rabbis in Israel have asked that recite the following Psalms for the safety and security our people in Israel - Psalms 20, 22, 69, 122, and 150. At Chabad (both locations) we recite them twice daily during the morning and evening minyan.

· Letter in the Scroll: Get your child a letter in the Children’s Torah Scroll – The Unity Torah for people of all ages –

· Study Torah: Join a Torah class or study on your own. 

· Take a tour of a Mikvah and explore the secret to Jewish family purity and harmony. For more info,

· Chanukah Celebrations of Jewish Pride: Participate in a Chanukah celebration of Jewish Pride such as Chanukah @ Riverwalk.


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