Motzei Shabbat, Saturday night - There's not a day or a moment that goes by in the news without announcements calling for the release from US prison of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard (after 25 1/2 years) and freedom for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
[BTW, we must never forget that there are seven missing Israeli soldiers, not just Gilad Shalit: http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/MFAArchive/2000_2009/2004/1/Israeli+MIAs.htm -
Staff Sgt. Zecharya Baumel, Staff Sgt. Zvi Feldman, Staff Sgt. Yehuda Katz, Major Ron Arad, Guy Hever and Majdy Halabi.]
Well, we've done just about everything to get them back. We've had wars against Lebanon and Gaza without successfully bringing them home. We've had demonstrations. We've gone to different world leaders and different countries asking for help. We've participated in letter-writing campaigns and internet petitions. Nothing has helped.
Well, today as I was learning Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers) from my new sefer (book) by HaRav Yisrael Meir Lau (former Chief Rabbi of Israel, current Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv), I read something that sparked an idea that absolutely startled me, it was like an electric shock.
Today we began the cycle of reading from the Ethics of the Fathers every Shabbat afternoon. We began learning Chapter One today. In Mishna 2 of Chapter 1, we learned "Shimon HaTzaddik was one of the remnants of the Great Assembly. He used to say: Upon three things does the world stand; 1) upon Torah; 2) upon [Divine] service; 3) and upon deeds of kindness.
Rav Lau explained that one of the blessings of one of Judaism's most important prayers the Shmona Esrei concludes with a reference to the patriarch Abraham alone (not his sons, Isaac and Jacob). We say, "Blessed are You, Hashem, Shield of Abraham."
Rav Lau explains that the chassidic rebbe R' Tzvi Elimelech of Dinov noted that the patriarch Jacob, who learned in the Torah academies of Shem and Ever, represents 1-Torah; and that Isaac, who was bound as an offering and prayed in the field represents 2-Divine service.
Abraham, who was so hospitable to all, represents 1-deeds of kindness.
Rav Lau explained how important it is for the Jewish people to continue to be engaged seriously and deeply in deeds of kindness.
He said that Abraham, who represents deeds of loving kindness, liberated captives.
Then it hit me.
The Jewish People have been willing to do all sorts of things to free our captives - we've planted gardens, made exhibits with their pictures, saved seats at our Seder tables for them, plus all the things listed above.
Let's try something else.
Let's try to follow in the example of Abraham, who liberated captives. Yes, he made a war against the kings who held his nephew Lot, but he also dedicated his life to gemilut chassadim (acts of kindness). Part One - our wars - didn't free our captives. Let's try Part Two - acts of kindness.
Maybe if we show G-d that we are devoted to one another and would go above and beyond regular actions in order to help one another, He will be moved to go one step further and truly free our captives.
Let's try loving kindness.
Let's each of us begin acting with kindness and respect to his fellow. Let's help one another in any way that's needed. Let's go out of our way for one another.
Want some ideas? http://www.catalogs.com/info/spirituality/random-acts-of-kindness.html
DO AN ACT OF LOVING KINDNESS TODAY (and tomorrow and the next day).
Write to this blog and let everyone know what you've done.
I am very serious in believing that if we all follow in the ways of Abraham, we will achieve the release of our captives one day very soon.
Let's try together. Worse comes to worst, we'll make the world a better place.
And we might even bring home Jonathan, Gilad, Zecharya, Zvi, Yehuda, Ron, Guy and Majdy.
IY"H, together we can make it happen.