A Fire Burns in Israel

Burned out
Burned out.
By kevin dooley on 2014-11-06 14:41:16

I wish everything was that simple: A long time ago Jeremiah, speaking for God, warned Israel, “But if you do not listen to Me, to sanctify the Sabbath Day and to not carry a burden and enter Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day, then I shall set fire to its gates, a fire that will consume the palaces of Jerusalem and not be extinguished.” (17:27) The logical implication, according to some, is that a fire burning out of control on Mt Carmel is God’s response to people violating the Sabbath. Someone searching for a simple explanation will find one and will not question its logic. If only things were that simple! I wonder whether anyone other than a Sabbath observant person would accept this explanation for the recent tragic fire in Israel. I shouldn’t be too critical of those searching for simple answers; Jacob certainly seemed to choose the same approach: I can picture Joseph sitting down with his father after all the excited greetings, meetings with Pharaoh, and everyone is comfortable with the new arrangements. Father and son are sitting alone in front of the fireplace, sharing a fine wine, tentatively poking at the question Jacob desperately wants to ask, and even more desperately does not want answered. Jacob is no fool and can easily figure out how Joseph reached his position. Should everyone place all their cards on the table and work out this unspoken mess? Perhaps Jacob should allow his sons to vent their resentment of Joseph’s favored position in the family. The family could hire Freud to lead them through some group therapy sessions. Jacob decided to forego Dr Freud’s help, and a few soul-baring family sessions. He went with the simple approach; “I’m so happy to see you after all those years!” He did hint to his biggest question while speaking to Pharaoh in front of Joseph; “Few and bad have been the years of my life,” including the years when Joseph did not contact me and allowed me to suffer. A hint, that’s all. The family could not afford to open Pandora’s Box. Simple was better. The coals of anger and resentment were smoldering, waiting to burst into flames. In other words, “A Fire Burns in Israel.” The fire that recently raged in Israel was controlled. The fire fueled by the desire for simple answers to complex issues continues to rage. “My house burned down because you violate Shabbat!” “My friend died on 9-11 because you dress immodestly.” Simplistic answers fuel the fire. They also extinguish the necessary flame that burns inside, the Chanukah light, the Eternal Lamp – Ner Tamid, that burn inside our souls as passion and drive. Such answers to difficult questions dump retardant over the fire that moves us and our children to question, challenge and explore. A fire certainly does burn in Israel; it should! It must! We must live with that fire in the belly that motivates us to find meaning in our lives. I do not look back on our history and see flames of tragedy that have consumed our bodies, but fires of passion and determination, that have never been extinguished, and give life to our souls. These are the fires that Jacob intentionally allowed to burn to keep us alive during our Egyptian sojourn. We dare not pour waters of simplicity over our hearts, minds, and souls, and douse the raging passion for achievement. Thank God, A Fire Burns in Israel, the fire of our quest to attach to the Infinite. The fire symbolized by the Shabbat candles. The fire in our soul. I wish you a fiery “Shabbat Shalom.”

Please follow us: