Israel Forever

For the week ending 21 December 2002 / 16 Tevet 5763

The Dividend of Danger

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

While Jews throughout the world pray for the security of their brothers in Eretz Yisrael and all who live there long for the day when peace will come, there is something to be said about the dividend of danger. "There is no atheist in a foxhole" it has been widely said, and there is no doubt that danger raises everyone, regardless of his religious level, to a deeper sense of dependence on Heaven.

In this weeks Torah portion we read of the aged and ailing Patriarch Yaakov bowing in respect to his son Yosef, the virtual ruler of Egypt. He bowed, however, in the direction of the head of the bed he was on. This was a lesson, as Rashi points out in his commentary, that the Divine Presence rests at the head of a sickbed and must be acknowledged with respect.

The Divine Presence is actually Omnipresent for "the world is filled with His glory". Why is the head of the sickbed then singled out?

When the Talmudic Sages speak of the location of the Divine Presence they are actually referring to the human perception of this divinity. Everyone but the atheist outside the foxhole will tell you he believes in G-d, but no one perceives His presence as intensely as the sick person, who senses at every moment that his life depends on Divine mercy. It is to this profound awareness that Yaakov paid tribute.

This, too, is the dividend of danger in every form. The daily miracles of thwarted terrorist acts remind us that "the Guardian of Israel does not slumber nor sleep" and the ongoing insecurity brings us closer to our Creator. When we come close enough there will no longer be a need for the danger and we will be able to enjoy a peaceful and comfortable Israel forever.

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