I am choked with grief.
Flashing in front of my eyes is the image of a young girl… A young teenager just like me. Skin and flesh naked, being burnt alive. The words Allah Akbar is being chanted, with a spine-chilling tune in the background. Friends of mine fighting on the front lines. A 12-year-old boy sobbing hysterically while having to say kaddish for his entire family killed in this war. I scroll through lifelessly until I’ve maybe seen hundreds of these horrifying videos, pictures, and testimonies.
Hooked, like some kind of awful drug. I see so much pain, and it feels too much for my shoulders to carry. My eyes are puffy and swollen from crying. More scrolling, it is now 48 hours later and I am frozen with fear and grief. Mix that with zero sleep and I’m ready to head out and fight Hamas myself.
The next morning when the sun hits my windowsill, I am determined to feel like a normal human being again. I realize that I am honoring no one by witnessing innocent, beautiful humans in their most mortifying moments before death. I decided to block all of my media apps on my phone.
Just like that, my morning routine changed from scrolling and scrolling and scrolling to showering, getting dressed, eating a hearty breakfast, and praying. The last time I remember praying was Simchat Torah morning and before that, I can hardly remember.
Although I am completely stricken with terror and trepidation, I pray for world peace and that we all feel the comfort of God’s love for us through this hard time. As it says in the Psalms “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.”
Despite the fact that I am filled with deep rage and indignation, I pray and I will continue to pray. Although there are such Satan-like evil people in this world, I pray that I can still see the goodness and godliness in everyone that I meet. Prayer makes me understand that even if I am in a pit state of darkness, I can still be hopeful. And that the two don’t contradict each other. See, I am not my pain, the sadness or the grief that I experience. As humans, we can hold space for grieving, pain, compassion, gratitude, and happiness at the same time. An example of how we can do that is in a song. A song can hold both the grief, prayer and uncertainty, rage, brokenness, and the feeling of home.
Consequently, Tefilla-prayer has the same numerical value as the word shira-song, it is the “song (prayer) has the ability to heal/take away all of the disillusions” – Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Song is the only place where I don’t have to dissociate in order to face the reality that is before me.