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Fire in the Bronx and the Pillar of Fire

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I had the privilege the other night to be at a vigil in the Bronx held opposite the building where the recent terrible tragedy occurred, the raging fire that claimed the lives of 19 souls, many of whom were children. What was remarkable that evening was how many of the speakers referenced God: “God is with us,” “God loves us,” “God loves the children.” Particularly striking were the words of the first speaker: “The Lord,” he said, “who showed the Children of Israel the way through the darkness with the pillar of fire, will show us through this darkness.” These words were shocking to hear: the tragedy itself had been a pillar of fire! Yet for this speaker, the image of fire, even at that moment, could serve to represent God’s presence. Yes, there was a terrible fire, yes, there is darkness. God, with God’s pillar of fire, will lead us and show us the way.

This made me realize how often these two things come together. How a sense of Divine abandonment can, at the same time, be intertwined with a hope and belief that God is ultimately there, God will show us the way.

So it was when B’nai Yisrael left Egypt. God led them – as the opening verses of the parsha tell us – in a roundabout way. Then, a few days........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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