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Chukat-Balak: Navigating In Times Of Uncertainty

Many studies have shown that uncertainty is even more stressful than knowing something bad is inevitably coming.

Navigating life in a world of unknowns is one of mankind’s greatest challenges.

We spend our lives trying to create a sense of security for ourselves and our families. We earn a living to provide food and shelter for our loved ones, and to provide an education for our children. We save money to ensure against possible turbulent times ahead. We purchase a wide range of insurance

products to protect ourselves from an unforeseen calamity.

Sometimes however, the cause of uncertainty is even more profound. Conventional methods of protection are no longer useful.

We find ourselves living in chaotic times. Few historical comparisons can be employed. How do we navigate the storm in which we are engulfed?

There is an event which I hope can shed some light.

The time is June 1927. The setting is a Soviet Prison (Spalerno) in Leningrad.

The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe has been sentenced to death for counter revolutionary activity. The authorities have identified his efforts to promulgate Jewish life, seen as the greatest threat to the regimes, and therefore wish to destroy it.

His oppressors are trying to intimidate him into submission. One religious Jew against the powerful Soviet Union.

At one point, one of his interrogators points his pistol at him, saying: “This little toy has made many a man change his mind”. The Rebbe calmly replied “that little toy can intimidate only a man who has many Gods and only one world. Because I have only one G‑d and many worlds, I am not impressed by your little toy.”

Human beings are in need of an anchor. In life’s voyage, storms are inevitable. Our ability to navigate the rough seas depends on the anchor we choose.

Our anchor in life is the faith and trust we have in a force greater than ourselves. We connect to that anchor through adhering to the timeless values which are imbued in that force. The most powerful winds of change are not able to undermine our connection. Nothing will intimidate those who are firm.

When man puts its faith in other men or those things created by mankind, it is on shaky ground. Just like man is transient, so is all that it produces. Anxiety and distress are inevitable.

The Rebbe who had complete faith and trust in G-d was not intimidated. As Jews this is our hallmark and the secret to our survival.

Tomorrow (12th Tammuz) we commemorate the liberation of the previous Rebbe from Soviet Prison. May his faith and courage continue to inspire Jewish people around the world.


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