They say that heartbreak leads to cynicism. We’ve all seen it; we’ve all experienced it. Maybe not with love per se but with another promise that was broken. When we believe so strongly in something and then it doesn’t come true, it is difficult for us to put our faith in it again, and even when people wave proof in our face, we push it away, saying it’s a fairy-tale, it cannot be. Love? Nope. Peace on earth? Nope. True democracy? Nope. Neighborly Kindness? Nope. Been there, tried that… it failed us. We turn to disbelief. After a while we begin to want to believe in those truths again but don’t fully because our jadedness holds us back. Thus is human nature.
The specific example to show the outcome of this jadedness is the following:
We want Mashiach now! (Insert many exclamation points here)
Did you just roll your eyes? If not, did you say with such belief that you honestly are ready for Mashiach to come this second? Did you say it while thinking of your plans tonight and those plans didn’t involve Mashiach?
We’re jaded. We’ve screamed this as kids, sometimes scream it as adults with kids but do we believe it as strongly as we did when we were kids?
In this week’s parsha, Parshas Va’Eira, Hashem promises Bnei Yisrael that we’re going to be taken out of slavery and going to finally be brought into the Holy Land. And how do we respond? We roll our eyes, we focus on our work, we plan the next pyramid – we’re jaded. The passuk literally says “but they did not listen to Moshe because of their shortness of breath, because of their hard labor (6:9).” Rashi comments that they did not accept consolation, meaning they despaired completely of being redeemed.”
We can ask ourselves how it was possible for Bnei Yisrael to despair when Hashem was telling them directly that they were going to be redeemed. Us, Hashem isn’t telling us directly – they have a message that is so clear – how could they not believe?! Well, I would humbly argue that we do as well. The message is just as clear, the problem is we’re just as jaded: we have Eretz Yisrael, miracles are happening all around us, technology is enabling us to become closer and closer to each other and Hashem which will bring the Geulah.
Just as the message is the same, so too is the shortness of breath. When there is this shortness of breath, when there is this cynicism, it is impossible to see the possibilities.
Hashem introduces Himself to us in this week’s parshah as Y-H-V-H while He was only known to the Avot as K-el Shakkai. Rashi explains that as Kel Shakkai, Hashem made the promises to the Avot, as Hashem (Y-H-V-H), He fulfills them. We refer to Hashem now as Y-H-V-H (Hashem), we are therefore living in a time when it is possible for the promises to be fulfilled.
We have to be sure that we don’t give up on the promise that was given to us. Although it hasn’t happened yet, it can very easily and when it does, our cynicism, our shortness of breath, shouldn’t block us from seeing it.
Have a great Shabbos and may we all be able to look past our cynicism and see the real possibilities.