Promises, Promises by Ruchi Koval (Intro by Lori)
Dear JWRP Sisters,
A lot of work goes into making JWRP Momentum trips happen. Our dedicated team works around the clock, organizing, fundraising, creating partnerships, dealing with the press, creating educational programs and materials, social media, website support, videos, follow-up… the list goes on and on.
This all happens all year round so by the time the Momentum participants step onto the plane, every detail has been covered and they can be seamlessly transported into a trip of a lifetime.
This month, we had over 1,000 participants in Israel – a new record! Behind the scenes, everything was covered. In front, the quality of leadership was unparalleled.
All of us, with the help of the Almighty, together make the magic happen. And the results speak for themselves.
We are very grateful and blessed that somehow we merit to be part of this movement. May it only grow and flourish.
From Jerusalem, Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom.
The night before President Richard Nixon left the White House for good after his historic resignation in 1974, he paused before the portrait of the late former president, John F. Kennedy.
“John,” he said to the portrait. “Why does everyone love you and hate me?”
“I’ll tell you why,” he responded to his own question. “Because when they look at you, they see everything they could be. And when they look at me, they see everything they really are.”
Everyone loves to look at babies. They’re just so… cute. What exactly is cute about a baby? Well, you might say, they’re soft and chubby. They’re round and sweet and innocent. When cartoonists want to make something, even an inanimate object, look cute, they give it baby-like attributes: a large head proportionate to its body, large eyes, and a round physique. These are things we consider cute. But why?
Psychology proves that humans have a natural dispensation toward their offspring (even if they’re not cute). We are genetically and spiritually wired to protect them, defend them, and care for them. That means that no matter what they looked like, they would produce in us that “awwww” factor. Since human offspring have a large head and eyes and are usually round and soft, they bring out soft feelings inside of us.
Human offspring, in Nixon’s sardonic words, help us see all that we could be. Babies are filled with potential. They could be anything, anyone, achieve all we have failed to achieve, and redeem humanity.
Our patriarch, Abraham, waited and prayed and hoped for just such a child. G-d had promised him, in four famous promises of ascending grandeur, that he’d merit a child, inherit the Land of Israel, become a father of many nations.
And the promises involved a long journey until fruition. Infertility. One child throwing off moral responsibility. Another child, in his old age. And the unthinkable: being tested in the most incomprehensible test of them all – G-d commanding him to bind his son, Isaac, as an offering on an altar. At the last possible moment, an angel appeared, commanding him not to lay a hand on the boy. This was only a test.
Why the difficulty? Why the promises, delays, drama, and intrigue? As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks says, we cherish what we wait for and what we most risk losing. Having children is a miracle, but since it’s a natural miracle, we forget what a miracle it is. In Judaism, we are taught to never, ever take this miracle for granted. In fact, on Rosh Hashanah, we read from the Torah about, of all things, the birth of a child: Isaac to Sarah, and Samuel to Chana. Being a parent is the closest thing we have to being like G-d. We create life through an act of love.
When we look at a child, we remember all we can be. We remember there is a future. Our emotions of protection and care come to the fore, and the best in us has a chance to come out. Nothing makes us more selfless than being a parent. Nothing. Abraham has shown us that precisely through the most difficult trials, our best selves are being honed. And that’s a promise.
Ruchi Koval is a JWRP Trip Leader and City Leader. She's also a musician, blogger, author, parenting coach, and lecturer. She loves to organize closets, eat doughnuts, and inspire others to live their best lives with Torah values. She lives in Cleveland, Ohio with her husband, and has seven children and a 60 lb. golden doodle.