Do Not Fear

Do Not Fear

I say a set of prayers every day. Once in the morning time and once in the afternoon. It’s called the Amidah. When I finish the prayers, I end them with a special conclusion. On a regular day, I say a short passage. On a special day, such as Shabbat, I say a longer version of the conclusion. This longer version has a very extraordinary phrase at the end.

To my detriment, I haven’t until recently paid a great deal of attention to these final phrases. They always seemed like an add-on or an extra, if you will. This additional phrase really caught my attention last week though.

I never realized how extraordinary these words were. The English translation from the Art Scroll prayer book goes like this:

“Do not fear sudden terror, or the holocaust of the wicked when it comes. Plan a conspiracy and it will be annulled; speak your piece and it shall not stand, for G-d is with us. Even till your seniority, I remain unchanged; and even till your ripe old age, I shall endure. I created you and I shall bear you; I shall endure and rescue.”

Powerful stuff huh? I cannot speak for others, but I can for myself. I finally tuned in to the meaning of this a week ago. It is nowhere near the first time that I have read this phrase. Though I only recite it on rare occasions, I have nonetheless had ample opportunity to read and comprehend it over the last two decades. However, it did not impact me until recently.

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I have concluded that it took a world crisis for me to understand the significance of this passage. Some have known well before me what it is like to live in a world of extreme uncertainty. I am new to this as I am sure many of you out there are.

On a daily basis, the ground seems to be shifting below us. It is happening at an unprecedented rate in this era. We feel helpless as public policy grips us more tightly than it ever has before. We are mystified as to why we cannot control this virus right now. Too many seriously bad people are being inexplicably empowered amidst the chaos. It is enough to make you want to lock all your doors, hide under your covers, and pray the bogey man doesn’t come and get you too quickly.

As time goes on, it is becoming clearer to me, that we must do the exact opposite of hiding. “Plan a conspiracy and it shall not stand”. I have heard so many around me saying that they don’t agree overall with the current public policy on Corona, but they feel helpless to do something. In each of our communities, there are varying opinions on how “political” we feel we should be. As admirable as it is, there is nothing wrong with not running for public office because you don’t like what is going on.

It is important to understand though that we all have gifts that we can contribute to what we believe in. Maybe you don’t want to have a meeting about how to fix what is wrong. Perhaps instead though, you would like to house this meeting. Are you a baker? You could offer to make food for an event that you believe in. Or you may be the type who has a lot to say but would rather put it in print than speak publicly. Whatever your gifts may be, it is time to put them to good use.

Speak your piece and it shall not stand. Not everyone is a confident extrovert. Nor, as mentioned above does everyone need to be. I don’t believe that speaking your peace means that you have to be a graduate of Toastmasters. There are so many ways that a person can calmly, respectfully, but firmly stand their ground. I have a few friends who are coming under fire from their schools because of their refusal to vaccinate their adolescent children with the current Corona shot. It disturbs them but they are soft-spoken people and not inclined toward initiating a public protest.

It is okay to not be the first one out there with a placard defending your beliefs. We are all made differently. Still, a soft but firm “no” in a one-on-one conversation with a school staff member can go a long way. You can also couple that with a few peacefully stated reasons for why you have made the choice that you have made.

We must not let fear get the best of us. Fear can protect us in positive ways. However, we must strive to not let it overwhelm and paralyze us. I believe we are living through a time in history where we are being called upon to be courageous. Whether we are courageous in a more public manner or we choose to take a stand in a quieter way is irrelevant. It is all helpful. Don’t be afraid in your own unique way to be strong in what you believe in. Speak your piece and it shall not stand,

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