In dark tunnels in Gaza, some 241 innocent men, women, and children are being held hostage by Palestinian terrorists.
The Talmud offers an intriguing teaching that even when faced with a sharp sword at one's neck, one should not lose hope or refrain from seeking Divine mercy. Some may view this as a lofty concept, perhaps only achievable with a dose of naivete . How can one maintain such resolve, and what follows even if they manage to do so?
But this was not the response of Margalit Megidish.
Her daughter, Ori, was taken hostage by Hamas terrorists during the barbaric assault on October 7. The greatest fear a parent can experience is the unimaginable dread that their child is in the clutches of evil individuals in the worst possible place on earth. The idea that Jewish people share a neighborhood with such individuals is difficult to fathom.
Margalit, however, did not succumb to despair. She clung to hope and strengthened her faith in G-d. Remarkably, she had a Torah scroll brought into her daughter's room, and she fervently prayed. In an emotional video captured by another family member, she is seen praying earnestly while preparing the Shabbat challah (a special mitzvah for women), even declaring amidst her emotions, 'G-d, I love you.' She seemed to be in a state of serenity and hope, rather than hysteria.
Some may question the depth of such faith, and associate it with shallowness and lack of sophistication. 'How can I believe in G-d and love Him when I feel He has abandoned me?' they might ask.
Yet, miraculously, Margalit's daughter, Ori, was rescued from Gaza and reunited with her family. To date, she is one of only five individuals to have left Gaza and the only one to be rescued.
This profound level of faith, which transcends understanding and rationality, is aptly described by the 11th-century philosopher, Rabbi Bahya ben Joseph ibn Pakuda, in his work Sha’ar HaBitachon. He likens deep faith to someone locked in a dungeon, knowing that only one other person in the world holds the key, and your only hope lies in that individual unlocking the door. Similarly, one's faith in G-d should be absolute, recognizing that our fate is entirely in His hands alone.
It may be difficult for us to experience such unwavering and deep faith, but let us take inspiration from Margalit Megidish who demonstrated that it is possible. As the verse proclaims, and we must always remember, “It is not by our strength or might of our hand, but it is He who gives strength.”
May G-d ensure the safe return of the hostages, bring healing to the wounded, and protect the brave men and women of the IDF and the people of Israel. As it's written, "The Guardian of Israel neither sleeps nor slumbers..." and "I shall grant peace upon the Land..."
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.