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Is there a future for us?



The headlines are screaming, the news is overbearing, and a general sense of despondency hovers over us. This world has turned upside down, mostly because of 7 October, but undoubtedly, it was simmering to a boil even before that. There’s wars, terrorism, scandals, and political upheaval. We’re suffering from financial instability, divorce and infidelity, physical, emotional, and mental maladies. There have been quite a few people I have engaged with recently who have expressed their concern whether a “brighter” future is possible, and here in South Africa, just the loadshedding schedule can plunge us into a dark and grim reality.

Sadly, and for me quite shockingly, some of these people argued quite strongly that the world looks too bleak, and there’s no place right now to bring children into this world and expect that they will be able to live a wholesome life. Well, I thought, they do have a point. For those of us that belong to the other millennia, when we cast our minds back to our childhoods of carefree days, filled with fun, laughter, outdoor activity, engagement in imaginative play, and reliant on “good-old-fashioned” stability around a home and family, it does feel like eons away in another space, unhindered by the pressure, stress, and anxiety of a kid growing up today.

And then I thought to myself, this isn’t the first time the world looks like it’s gone mad. You’re probably reading this in “Pesach mode”, so let’s look at the world then, pre-exodus. The Jewish people were enslaved, shackled to the dictatorship of a despot Pharoah, who didn’t care for any human rights whatsoever. Even worse, he exploited his position and brought about profound human suffering, tragedy, and hardship. Imagine the trauma of living there under these conditions? Knowing every day when you wake up that your baby might be thrust from your care and thrown into the Nile River, or even worse, killed and drained of their blood so a maniacal tyrant could bathe in it. Imagine witnessing a loved one whipped to death and then used as a missing brick in the pyramids? Imagine the backbreaking work, the endless hours of continuous suffering, and the bitterness and tears that engulfed the nation.

Truthfully, this reality did break the people, and the Torah tells us that many demoralised men abstained from intimacy with their wives. Who wants to bring children into this world? And by the time the evil decree came to throw all Jewish boys into the Nile, even the leader of the Jewish people at that time, Amram, succumbed to their despondency and he, too, separated from his wife.

It took a visionary and a hero to save the Jewish people, and it came in the form of a young girl called Miriam, Amram’s only daughter. “You’re worse than Pharoah,” she argued. “He decreed that no Jewish boys should live, but by you choosing not to have any more children, you’re essentially decreeing that there won’t be a future generation!” And Amram the Sage took heed, remarried his wife, and convinced the other men to follow suit. That re-union gave birth to the redeemer, Moses, who eventually took all the Jews out from slavery to freedom. The wives beautified themselves and allured their husbands back, resulting in the birth of new generations of Jews that lived not only to see the redemption, receive the Torah, and settle the land, but by extension, today we’re grateful to call them our great-grandparents.

Who are we to judge the value of one more Jewish soul? Who are we to judge the value of a child who has the potential literally to change the whole world? Miriam believed in the intrinsic value of the Jewish nation, and by extension so did all the Jewish women. Today, we’re thankful that they didn’t succumb to despondency but rather held on to a faith of a better, brighter tomorrow. As the Torah teaches us, “In the merit of the righteous women of Egypt, we merited to be redeemed.” And this happened repeatedly in history. We can simply cast our minds back to the broken souls that hobbled out of Auschwitz and went on to build families and generations that thrive and contribute today.

Interestingly, there’s another part to the quote above about the righteous women. According to the master kabbalist, the Arizal, the souls of the final generation before Mashiach’s arrival are reincarnations of the souls of the generation of the exodus. Just as then it was in the merit of the women’s faith that the Israelites were redeemed, so, too, it will be in the merit of the righteous women of our generation, and our unwavering belief in the redemption, that we’ll be redeemed once again. So now, how’s that for the flip of the coin. You still don’t see a “bright” future?

On the contrary, we need to gird ourselves with positivity, practice our faith with joy, raise our families with love, and continue to build our land with determination. In each and every heart, deep in your soul, there’s a burning desire to make this world a better place, a dwelling for the Almighty, and we’re guaranteed that just like in the days of Egypt, we too will be redeemed. And this time, it will be forever. May we merit this immediately!

Chag sameach vekasher.

  • Rebbetzin Aidel Kazilsky is a radio and television host and an inspirational speaker who teaches the wisdom of Torah and applies it to contemporary times.

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