Protector of Israel: Painful Wake Up Call

This past weekend I found myself going back to my favorite earworm by the Shira Choir. I dare you to listen to Im HaShem LoYivneh Bayit without singing it all week.

The lyrics come from two verse in Psalms. There we read:

אם-השם, לא-יבנה בית–    שוא עמלו בוניו בו
אם-השם לא-ישמור-עיר,    שוא שקד שומר הנה לא-ינום, ולא יישן–    שומר, ישראל

If the Lord did not build the house, they labor in vain that they build it
If the Lord did not keep the city, the watchman are awake in vain (Psalm 127:1) Behold, God the protector of Israel does not rest or sleep  (Pslam 121:4)

Just when we thought that we might be turning a corner with Covid or enough time has passed since the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, we hear the news of the hostage situation in a synagogue in Texas. This happening in 2022 is unsettling. I am sure like many of you this weekend was one of sleeplessness.

We might claim that this ending without the hostages being physically injured is sign that the Protector not resting or sleeping. And at the same time we must ask ourselves why we are always in harms way. What about their mental wellbeing? Who is protecting our mental, emotional, spiritual, social health? I would prefer it if the Jewish people were not the snooze button on God’s alarm clock getting smacked every time God needed to wake up. Throughout history we have had more than our share of these painful wake up calls.

Police respond to a hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16 in Colleyville, Texas.

It is hard in these moments not feeling exposed. All people need to feel safe in their bodies, identities, and homes. If we do not feel the presence of the Protector we need community and human connection to watch over us. Alas due to Covid, this has not been happening in fulfilling ways. Covid is not the only ailment. Hate is also a global pandemic. We need to acknowledge the events of the weekend and find other ways to connect, form community, and look after each other.

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