How to Win the War (Inside)
By Adrienne Gold Davis, Trip Leader from Toronto, ON
The sages said: I have learned much wisdom from my teacher, more from my colleagues and the most from my students (BT Ta'anit 7a)
This summer I learned with absolute clarity just how accurate that piece of wisdom can be! Leading a mission to Israel in the midst of a war was a humbling and daunting experience. While I knew that we would be safe, and that the JWRP would never allow its precious sisters to be endangered, I knew that the collective anxiety of a nation at war coupled with the inevitable angst of mommies travelling without their children would mean crossing that very narrow bridge Rabbi Nachman of Breslav speaks of.* So imagine my awe and joy to discover that the women I was ‘leading’ would teach me more than I ever thought I could learn about courage, grace under pressure, and what it means to keep ones balance in the face of all situations.
There is a quote I have always loved by Ambrose Redmoon. He says, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Shakespeare told us, “A coward dies many a death, a brave man dies but once”. The lesson for us is a simple one..just as there is no commitment till you want to leave, courage by definition means deciding that there is something bigger than our emotional state, something that requires us to do and be the right thing, regardless of how jumpy it may make us. Our own Rabbi, Rabbi Noach Weinberg Z’L put it most succinctly: “Until you know what you are willing to die for, you have not yet begun to live. If you want to live, be real. Know what you are willing to die for. Then you are genuinely alive, and able to truly achieve the highest form of pleasure from living.”
On our trip were a group of Israeli women who have had Cancer diagnosis. Each one of these women shone with the light of the daughters of Israel, and each wore the glow that comes from facing life and its fragility. Whether fighting their personal health battles or having their sons or daughters fighting for our homeland, they brought to us the essential message of the Jewish nation. They showed us what it means when Hashem said:
“See I have placed before you today life and good, death and evil… [and you shall choose life]' (Deut. 30:15,19)
I had to go into a war zone to finally realize that the ultimate battle is always waged from within. I learned more in 9 days than I have in a lifetime. And since I have been home, I have watched this video every single day. It give me strength. It gives me hope. It gives me courage. May all of those wonderful woman, and all the daughters of Israel who are struggling, have a Refuah Shleimah. I will always be your student.
*“the world is a very narrow bridge, the important thing is not to be afraid” Rav Nachman of Breslav