Roy Neuberger - Jan. 02, 2015

"When Jacob finished instructing his sons, he drew his feet onto the bed; he expired and was gathered to his people." (Genesis 49:33) So ends an era. But the influence of the Patriarchs is so powerful that it remains with their children until the end of time. All of our prayers begin with the words, "G-d of Abraham, G-d of Isaac and G-d of Jacob..."

I am reminded of a beautiful commentary. Why do we repeat the phrase "G-d of..." three times? There is not one extra word in our prayers. Would it not have been more efficient to say "G-d of Avraham, Yitzchak and Jacob?" I heard this answer: our father Isaac grew up in the home of Abraham and Sarah. What more perfect home could there have been? And yet, despite his magnificent upbringing, Isaac still had to find G-d for himself. No matter how great one's role model, each person has to establish for himself his own personal relationship with G-d. And so, in addition to being the "G-d of Abraham," G-d became the "G-d of Isaac" because Isaac had to "find" G-d himself.

The same process occurred with our father Jacob and all his descendants. Each of us has to find his own personal connection with G-d. No two connections are the same, because we each connect in our own way. Our Patriarchs taught us to search for G-d, and their merit has enabled us to continue in their way. We survive in a hostile world only because our fathers taught us to connect with G-d.

G-d told Abraham that "I shall surely ... increase your offspring like kochvei hashomayim ... the stars of the heavens ..." (Genesis 22:17)

Each star casts a unique light upon the earth: this one is blue; this one is green; this one is red. Their fixed positions guide us when we are lost. They are beyond the reach of earthly troubles. No one can dim their light; the darker the night, the brighter they shine.

There is a school in Queens, New York called "Kochvei Yisroel," Stars of Israel. My wife and I usually don't speak for sixth-to-eighth graders, but a friend asked us. We went there recently and had an amazing experience. These boys were all in public school last year or the year before until Rabbi Yehuda Leib Schwartzberg plucked them out and brought them to a place they love. They are largely, although not exclusively, from Bucharian ancestry.

We were told they are a lively bunch. Lively? You said it!

What stood out is ... the hands! They were up every second. These guys would not let us finish a sentence before they had a thousand questions. They wanted to know all about our lives before and after we became religious. They had a natural, genuine, innocent curiosity which could not fail to touch the heart! I usually ask audiences to hold the questions until later, but these boys would have exploded - and forgotten their questions - if they had been asked to wait.

The questions flooded us like spring rain! I am reminded of the words of Moses: "May my teaching drop like the rain. May my utterance flow like the dew." (Deuteronomy 32:2) Words of Torah give life to the world. These boys have the refreshing innocence of spring rain. A young man named Ariel Pourattarian, who came from public school, told me that the day of his acceptance at the yeshiva was "the happiest day of my life!"

Connecting to Jews in communities around the world is so beautiful because you may think that purity and innocence have disappeared from the world, and then you see that you were wrong! There are pure souls out there, waiting to connect to G-d and just wanting to be shown the way. They only need straight talk on how to do it. They really can be compared to stars in that they are amazingly untouched by the impurity of the contemporary world.

As I write, two policemen were murdered in New York City. Dark incidents are being reported from all corners of the globe. Evil forces seem to be gathering strength. They may seem irresistible ... but no! "All the nations surround me. In the Name of G-d I cut them down! They encircle me, they also surround me. In the Name of G-d I cut them down." (Psalm 118)

We have seen the Stars of Israel. They are bright and fiery, shining in the darkness. The night sky is full of light if you seek it. Darkness is closing in, my friends, from all sides, but let's not forget that the only time you see the stars shining is in the darkness. The Children of Israel are absolutely beyond the reach of the collapse of the world culture which is currently occurring.

"Just as I dance toward you but cannot touch you, so may none of my enemies be able to touch me for evil ... May it be Your will, G-d ... May the light of the moon be like the light of the sun and like the light of the seven days of creation, as it was before it was diminished.....And may there be fulfilled upon us the verse that is written: 'They shall seek G-d, their G-d and David their king!' Amen!" (Kiddush Levana prayer)


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