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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Miracle of Normalcy as appeared in Binah Magazine by Debbie Shapiro

Sirens. Rioting. Missiles… and more missiles. Attempted terror attacks. And I am busy getting ready for Shabbos. That's my battle right now. To do my avodas Hashem. To be me, a wife, mother, and grandmother, while all around me, chaos reigns. It's not easy. I force myself not to check the news every five minutes. Every time I hear the "Tzav Adom" alert, informing me that a missile has been fired, I want to stop whatever I'm doing to recite Tehillim.

But life has to go on. And Shabbos comes, ready or not.

The truth is, it's absolutely insane. There's a war going on, yet here, in Yerushalayim, it is peaceful and calm. Normal, which, when you think about it, is really not normal.
Last week I took a (hyper)active child to a studio across town to record a narration for a video that I am producing. We got through the torturous hour with promises of pizza and ice cream, and even added sprinkles for good behavior.

Later on, while attempting to find an empty seat in the pizza parlor, the boy's mother and I looked at each other in bewilderment. The place was packed, and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Were we the only people aware that just a few miles away, our soldiers were endangering their lives to assure our safety, and that over forty of them (oh, please, Hashem, may there be no more) will never return?

The boy's mother smiled at me and said, "The truth is, this is what we need to do. Continue to live normally. That's what they're fighting for."

Every once in a while (at least ten times a day!) someone calls to tell me about another miracle. The three kedoshim were the catalyst to a war that was not supposed to be, at least not now. No one even dreamed of the dozens of tunnels that ran literally under people's homes (when southern residents told the IDF that they were hearing digging under their beds, they were referred to a psychologist!), and of the murderous massacre that, hodu laShem ki tov, was averted.  Today, a car full of explosives was caught at the very last moment, at the entrance to Beitar. Several days ago, the Iron Dome was unsuccessful in intercepting a missile headed directly to the center of Tel Aviv. With less than four seconds to go before it would slam into a large building, the officer in charge of the Iron Dome made a promise that he would start to keep Shabbos… and a strong wind blew the missile into the sea (yup, this one gave me the chills too!)

Sunday, I'm giving a talk to mothers about what they can do to protect their children from dangerous people, many of them who appear to be frum, ehrliche Yidden. As I prepared my shiur, I kept on thinking about the tunnels. No one knew they were there. To the people living in the idyllic, rustic communities, the threat seemed to come from the missiles shot at them from across the border. They never dreamed that the real danger was hidden beneath their own backyards, undermining the foundations of their insular life. Knowledge of this threat's existence is the first step to winning the war, in Gaza, within our community, and within ourselves.

At times, I have this urge to travel south and join the thousands of Israelis who are handing out everything from Havdalah sets and tzitzis to deodorant and hotdogs to the soldiers taking a short break from the grueling battle. And yes, when I do pass a soldier on his way to the front, I wish him much hatzlachah and give him my blessings that he return home safely, and get a huge smile and thank you in return. But my tafkid is not to fight at the front. It's to be home, with my family, living in a bubble of normalcy, while battling the tunnels within. It's to recite Tehillim while polishing the candlesticks and washing the dishes and making the beds, and knowing that with my mundane actions I am creating a true Jewish home. A bastion of kedushah.

And that really is something worth fighting for.

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