Strangely, going into Shabbat didn't do much to calm my fears.
I could tell I was overreacting and that it was just my imagination going into overdrive, but I still had a very hard time letting go of the whole thing.
Finally, I forced myself to sit down and read the Haftarah.
(I can't manage to get to shul, so I just read it on my own.)
The very first verse (Yeshayah 51:12) knocked me between the eyes:
אָנֹכִי אָנֹכִי הוּא מְנַחֶמְכֶם מִי אַתְּ וַתִּירְאִי מֵאֱנוֹשׁ יָמוּת וּמִבֶּן אָדָם חָצִיר יִנָּתֵן
"I, I am He Who comforts you all. Who are you that you should be afraid of mortals who will die and of men who will be given over as grass?"
In part, it was the sudden switch to feminine form (Mi aht?) that hit me so hard, as if Hashem was sending a personal message.
Rashi and Metzudat David both interpret it as saying:
"Who are you? A daughter of tzaddikim, full of merits! Why do you fear a mortal whose end is to die?"
First of all, Rashi and Metzudat David teach us that when someone has lost their emuna to a certain extent and is crying out or otherwise behaving in a fearful or desperate manner, the proper reaction is to build them up — remind them who they are.
- "Hey, you're not some bum off the street, remember: You're the child of tzaddikim! You're inherently special. You're genetically programmed to be more than whatever you feel you are right now. That's right; you can't really do anything to nullify that specialness, regardless of how low you've sunk. It's just an innate part of who you are, no matter what."
- "Also, aside from your lineage and genetics, you yourself are just brimming with zechuyot and all sorts of goodness!"
And once you've set things in their proper perspective, then you confront them with pure logic:
- "Those other guys — the Erev Rav, the Esavniks, the missionaries, the jihadi Yishmaelim, and all the rest? They've got nothing over you. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. You've got the whole package. In fact, not only are they going to just drop dead at some point, but they'll also just dry up before their time. Yeah, they look like lush strong grass, but guess what? They're not. It's all an illusion. Just keep up your courage and bide your time, and you'll see."
Don't Let the Chatzir Trip You Up
The chatzir doesn't just go from its peak lushness to dead grass within a moment.
It dries up.
(mityavesh — מתיבש — literally: "becomes dry")
It starts off all lush and green, but then it gradually yellows and looses its vitality — and it does so before its time.
So why fear the people compared to chatzir?
Courage, all you fabulous brothers and sisters — and don't let the baddies get you down.
You have the power — because you have Hashem.
Remember who you really are.