וחרה אף ה' בכם
It's so important not only to pray, not only to learn Torah, but also to find the hidden blessings, the hidden points of light within even the darkest places. (As a matter of principle, we don't seek out the darkness, but when we find ourselves in it, we are required to reveal the light hidden therein.)
Every day, at least twice a day, we say the prayer Shema Yisrael. In the time of the Holocaust, the Partisans in the woods would identify a Jew based on his/her ability to recite the Shema Yisrael. The Shema is in many ways the essence of the Jew, and many a Jew has died with these holy words on their lips.
In the second chapter/paragraph of the Shema, we speak about the performance of the mitzwoth and the negative reppercussions of our transgressions. To me this part of the Shema is always difficult, we are proffessing our love and devotion to God and in the midst of this recounting His capacity to consume us in His holy wrath.That's rough. How can we really and truly mean it when we say we love God, when this threat hangs over our heads?
"And He will grow angry with you, and the heavens will cease, a stop to all precipitation, the land will hold back its bounty, and you will be lost from the land."
So many times I've set out to try and understand the deeper blessing, the light within this darkness and it has taken me until now to understand the smallest part of it:
When something displeases or angers you, you have a number of potential responses, depending on the importance of the annoyance in question. If it's the weather, you do your best to ignore it. An insect? You swat it away. A piece of paper, toss it in the waste basket. Another driver in traffic? Perhaps a gesture or an expletive but then they're gone.
What about your wife? children? parents? what about your best friend? These are the people that really get you angry. They make you angry because you care about them, because they know you and you know them, because you are intimately connected to them. You don't threaten your college professor that you won't ever talk to them again. You don't threaten to never visit a television reporter.
We are so close to God that He knows we can even take His anger. In hebrew it's rendered and His anger will burn in you. Not only does God dwell amongst us, but even when He's angry his anger is within us. He reveals Himself in this world through us. The heavens 'cease' when He's angry, the land's bounty is withheld, but He is still in us. He threatens to remove us from the land, because it's something of real value, a place to be close, to be intimate with Him. It's what He wants, it's what we want, and so it is withheld.
For one thousand nine hundred and forty one years, we have bourn His anger, and if that's what He's willing to give us then that is what we'll take.
Because all we want is Him.
That's a real relationship.
Someone you care about so much that they make you angry sometimes.
Someone who cares so much about you that your anger won't scare them away.