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Snow, Safari and Zachor

now was so beautiful last night. Here in Alon Shevut, over 30cm of snow fell! It was magical. This morning we have five broken trees in our garden (- at least)! The weight of the snow was simply too much and they tore apart.

Some thoughts:

1. It reminds me of many fun things in the human experience, as children and as adults, that one might enjoy at the time, but one will pay the price later. A cautionary tale.

2. Is this bad? Nature regenerates this way! My broken trees, with their torn limbs, will grow new branches, rejuvenate and thicken. That is nature's way of pruning, of growth. Somewhat turbulent, but it works! "At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail." (Job 14:7)

But human pain isn't like that. When we get damaged, few can merely bounce back. The torment is not easily healed (see the rest of that chapter in Job/Iyov).

Some years ago, my wife and I went on a Safari. One evening on our drive, we passed a giraffe standing in a thicket, standing and not moving even as we approached. The rangers didn't understand why he wasn't moving so they got close, and then he took a step; he was limping... he had broken his leg. He couldn't walk. The rangers said: "Those lions that we saw earlier - this giraffe will be their dinner!"

In nature, the powerful eat the broken, the strong prey on the weak. However, we are not animals. As human beings, we see the pain, suffering, sickness, and we try to assist, to heal, to alleviate that suffering, to rescue. To be human is to use our power to support, to sustain, to exert our responsibility for others.

This might be the message that we should recall this Shabbat at Zachor. Amalek, throughout Tanakh, prey upon the weak and the vulnerable, "the faint and the weary". (Deut 25:17, Shoftim 3:13,6:3-5; I Sam 30) When we remember Amalek, we should think about how we must be different. Nature is powerful, but heartless. In nature, only the fittest survive. But we have a heart! In civilization, we are charged to establish a culture and a society that protects the defenseless, that champions justice and goodness, tzedek, chessed and mishpat.


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