Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides: Hungering for peace

Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides

By Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides

(Calgary) – My father, of blessed memory, used to quote a curse, “May you live in interesting times.” I think it was attributed to the Chinese tradition but there is some controversy about that. Regardless, it is one of those things that seems counter-intuitive but becomes more true as time goes by. When I was younger, I hungered for interesting times; rebellion and drama, technological advances and opportunities for vast knowledge, philosophical challenges and moral quandaries.

Now, as I get older, what I hunger for more than anything, is peace. Peace of mind, peace for Am Israel, peace for the economy, the government, the world. I don’t know if this is because, as I get older, I get wiser or just more tired, but I do know that I have had enough of interesting times and would be thrilled to be bored.

This has been an extraordinarily difficult time for all of us. Coming off the heels of what we thought was the worst thing that could happen, a word-wide pandemic, we are at war and the ripples of fear and antisemitism have caught our people by surprise and confusion. We are waiting with bated breath for our hostages to be found or released, and, in the meantime, it feels like we are crazed moths, flinging ourselves against the glass, frantic to claw toward the light of our taken brothers and sisters. As we slam ourselves over and over, getting bloody and battered and trying to function despite the suffering, we reach out in desperation for help from our allies and find waning support. Our hearts cry for all the innocent lives lost while we feel betrayed by the criticism and misunderstanding. We can’t process the trauma or grieve properly because we are still in the middle of the crisis.

And even more frightening is not knowing when and how this will all end. Not knowing how long this will go on, not knowing how many people’s lives will be lost and hurt. Not knowing, not knowing, not knowing.

It is tempting, at times like this, to turn inward and become isolated in powerlessness and fear. But just as our ancestors left the slavery of Egypt, so do we need to leave the place of hopelessness. It is also tempting, during this time of stress and strife, to turn on one another. To find small differences in politics or philosophies and use those to divide and hurl accusations without the benefit of civil discourse and the nuance necessary to express complete truth. But our tradition teaches us that it is only together, as a people, and with faith in the Divine, that we can even begin to withstand this grief.

As Pesach approaches and we find ourselves in our own personal Mitzrayim – our narrow places – from which we need redemption, it our Kehillah, our community, that can provide a soft place to rest. We must support one another and strive to understand despite our exhaustion.

It is so much easier to be binary, to let our brains rest by allowing arguments to be black and white, but we must resist. We are the People of the Book and it is our duty, despite the relentless fatigue, to find and explain truth, in its wholeness.

These heartbreaking times can only be transformed into wholeness and peace, true shalom, if we stick together with one another and with our faith.

There is a poem based on a writing by Professor Michal Walzer that reminds us:

Standing on the parted shores of history,
we still believe what we were taught
before ever we stood at Sinai’s foot:

That wherever we go, it is eternally Egypt,
that there is a better place, a promised land;
that the winding way to that promise
passes through the wilderness.

That there is no way to get from here to there

except by joining hands,
marching together.

We are the family of Am Israel. Let us gather at this time of Pesach, tell the story to our children, pray for the release of our captives, and the end of this war, and try to have gladness.

From my family to yours, I wish you a happy, kusher Pesach.  May it bring meaning, health, and peace. L’Shanah Haba’ah B’Yerushalayim.

Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides is the Assistant Rabbi at the Beth Tzedec Congregation and has an Independent Rabbinic practice as the Rocky Mountain Rabbi.


1 Comment on "Rabbi Ilana Krygier Lapides: Hungering for peace"

  1. Irina Rudin | May 15, 2024 at 6:25 am | Reply

    Such lovely, warm, wise words, Ilana. I was deeply moved reading them.

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