“Death shall be swallowed up forever, and G-d shall wipe the tears from every face…” (Isaiah 25:8)
In three fierce snips, it is over. Stripped of its plaster and gauze encasing, the tiny, pale leg just rests there. One almost expects it to blink under the harsh gaze of fluorescent light, but no—it is quiet, unmoving. The orthopedic technician quickly lets Mom know that it may be a few days before her little girl starts to walk again. “Look, she’s been off her leg for close to a month now, so she must get used to using those muscles again.” Once the x-ray has determined that the bone has properly healed, it is time to go. And yes, magically, she goes! Tiny, tottering, tentative steps. But steps, no less. Past the physiotherapist’s room and the little boy with crutches, she toddles by, looking at Mommy with shining eyes.
A taste of Redemption, Moshiach.
But there’s a heaviness. What about the other ones? With crutches and splints, casts and slings, they wait. Then, on another floor, an anxious knot of people huddle around the somber-looking doctor. On yet another floor, a surgeon emerges from the operating room with grim news. Faces drop, tears fall. It is a strange planet, this hospital. Like a heavy blanket, the sadness encloses, almost suffocates. Time both races and drags on. Is it endless?
A taste of Exile.
But look. Small but significant rays of sunshine sneak their way into the gloom. It is Friday morning at 6 a.m., and a kind woman is pouring boiling chicken soup from her pot into an oversized thermos. It will soon be delivered to a new mother and her family. In the summer heat, a caring man, already the age of a zeide, is walking downtown on Shabbos, where he will then climb ten flights of hospital stairs to visit a recovering heart surgery patient. Into the lively dancing circle at a wedding, a little boy in a wheelchair is pulled to dance with the chosson. On one particular afternoon, a shiur is prefaced with fervent prayers for the refuah sheleimah of a complete stranger in another country.
But there really are no strangers or other countries. We are all in this together.
How does it feel to finally arrive after a two-thousand-year journey? To finally and truly see with fresh eyes, and look back at the past as one long, unsettling dream?
As the delicate drops of water, which eventually bored a deep hole in a solid rock and inspired Rabbi Akiva to Torah learning despite his advanced age, the continuous stream of thoughtful, positive deeds have finally chipped away at the two-thousand-year-old plaster encasing—one person, one good deed at a time. Then. Finally. That oppressive shell, golus, has cracked, smashing through the hundreds of tired layers to reveal…Redemption!
With piercingly loud shofar blasts, we are set free. How does it feel to finally arrive after a two-thousand-year journey? To finally and truly see with fresh eyes, and look back at the past as one long, unsettling dream? The bones are rejuvenated. They are perfect. We stagger to our feet and look ahead. Joining with us are hundreds, thousands, millions of our sisters and brothers. This time, the tears are of happiness. We first limp past the many long corridors filled with thousands of years of trials and tribulations, and then break into a run toward an exquisite world filled with revealed good.
May it be speedily in our days, amen.