Martin van den Bergh
Turning Resolve into Action
No sooner have we collectively mourned the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’Av we begin preparations for the Yamim Norain, the Days of Awe, Rosh Hashanah and Yo especia Kippur. The bridge which connects Tisha B’Av and the Yamim Noraim are the special Haftarot which are read on the intervening Shabbatot are taken from the Book of Isaiah and are called Shiva Denechamata, the seven of comfort, which focus on the message of salvation and fortitude. That despite commemoration the destruction of the Temple, we can look to the future with hope and confidence. With this should come the resolve to behave in a better way, especially towards our fellow man.
This is also a part of our preparations for the Yamim Noraim, when we are repent, judged by God, and atone for our sins. While the preparations really begin at the beginning of Ellul, there is no reason why we should not start now and turn resolve into action. One possible way is to start by showing kindness and consideration to others. A lot has been said about not hating the other. But we should not just not hate, we should love the other as the Torah tells us: “ואהבת את רעך במוך you should love your neighbour as yourself” This may be difficult especially when your neighbour is different from you.
Today, as we do not necessarily live in a small village where everybody is the same, we interact more with others who are very different from us, and so having consideration for someone who has different mannerisms can at time be very challenging. When I first went to Yeshiva at Montefiore College exactly fifty years ago, I was confronted with this dilemma, of living and learning with students from very different backgrounds from that of my own. That is until I realised that they were experiencing the same dilemma. While admittedly my four and a half years at Montefiore College was not easy, I learnt this lesson, of trying to understand and appreciate others from different backgrounds, and to learn to respect and befriend others who were not like me. Here in Israel, we also meet many people who are different. Differences do not only exist with people of other faiths, differences exist between Jews as well. But, despite these differences we are all brothers and sisters. One of the key ways in which we can respect others, is to remember that we are all made in the image of God, and therefore we should turn resolve to respect others into real action. By turning resolve into action, we can also prepare ourselves for the Yamim Noraim, in the prayer that God will judge us favourably and inscribe us all into the Book of Life.