Am Kadosh - A Light in a Darkened World
"Why do the goyim hate us?" It’s the question the world has been asking for thousands of years. Why is there so much animosity directed against the Jew? Someone growing up in the West might have thought this question to be unreasonable and unwarranted just a couple of months ago. However, recent events have compellingly demonstrated; the goyim mostly hate us. There are various theories amongst historians, economists, psychologists and more.
While all of these reasons might be true, they are just rational explanations for an irrational attitude. The Torah Jew, however, knows the answer to this mystery. Opposites are incompatible—light and darkness, hot and cold, health and sickness, sanity and insanity etc.
Allow me to share with you a story of some of that light that won't coexist with the darkness. This last Motzei Yom Kippur, I flew to America. I boarded the plane early and found my seat—an aisle seat in the middle row. When I got to my seat, there was a Chassid sitting in the aisle seat on the other side. He warmly greeted me with a big “shalom Aleichem” and engaged me in conversation. He mentioned that his son would soon join him in the middle seat, but in the meantime, he enjoyed looking out the window.
As the plane filled up and we were ready for takeoff, the screens on the seats went on. People were flipping through the different channels to see what they wanted to watch. The Chassid politely asked if I wouldn't mind if he enclosed himself and his son by putting up a blanket between us, to which I naturally obliged. I was surprised to hear such a request, even taken aback.
As we took off and the cabin lights dimmed, behind the curtains the Chassid had set up for himself and his son, the soft glow of their shared light was barely discernible. The father and son were engrossed in learning Mishnayos, while I glanced around the plane, observing the various screens playing in the dimmed cabin. Amidst the darkness, under those curtains, resonated the sweet voices of the father and son immersed in their learning.
As time passed, the father must have dozed off. Seated right next to the boy from behind the curtain, I witnessed him continuing to delve into the Mishnayos, accompanied by the Nigun of the Yom Kippur davening. His soft, thin, angelic voice resonated, which I was fortunate to hear because I was sitting so close.
This year, my Yom Kippur davening was very meaningful, yet it paled in comparison to the emotion I experienced listening to the boy's pure voice singing the words of the Mishnayos. Perhaps it was because I was emerging from Yom Kippur and hadn't fully descended; I can't say for sure. Eventually, the boy dri
fted into sleep. My elbow rested on the shared armrest between us. Now, while I acknowledge that this experience could all be in my head, when his head gently fell onto my elbow, I felt an unprecedented surge of Kedusha, a profound sense of closeness. I recall thinking, "This is what Kedusha must feel like." Glancing around the plane at the screens, it became evident why Kedusha cannot coexist with Tumah.
We are an Am Kadosh, and we will always be an Am Kadosh. Until the world learns to live in harmony with that kedusha, Eisav will always hate Yaakov.
Rav Nachi Ryback