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Fire Won't Burn Us!

Friday, 11 September, 2020 - 8:26 am

Bozeman is grieving. The fires of last weekend destroyed almost thirty homes, as well as ranches, barns, equipment, not to mention the devastating effect on the natural gorgeousness of Bridger Canyon. When speaking to the Feniger’s and Mendelsohn’s, I heard the heartbreak in their voice but also the gratefulness for life and the resolve to rebuild. Bill Feniger, who took only a handful of items before evacuating, managed to take his Tefilin with him. Jason Mendelsohn asked that I come to their new home once it’s built, to place the new Mezuzos. In the words of the old Yiddish song “Feyer Vet Unz Nisht Farbrenen”, sung by Chassidim back in Russia, “fire won’t burn us and water won’t drown us”.

In this week’s double Torah portion, Nitzavim-Vayelech, Moses informs his people that after he passes away they will stray from G-d “And I will hide My face on that day, because of all the evil they have committed, when they turned to other deities…And now, write for yourselves this song, and teach it to the Children of Israel”. In the darkest of times, when the trajectory of Judaism seems gloomy, G-d says that what will keep the Jews alive, what will keep them connected to their heritage, is the song of Torah, Judaism that’s experienced as a living organism of joy and meaning. When two families lose their entire home and hours after going back to see the ruin they are talking about Mezuzos and Tefilin, you know that Am Yisroel Chai.

On Saturday night, right after Shabbos, I called my buddy Quincy, who is a fire expert, and asked him how they would put this monster out and he responded “they won’t, and they can’t. The cooler temperatures and the expected rain/snow fall will do it”. For a fire ignoramus like me that was surprising, but I finally understood the incredible words of  King Solomon in Song of Songs, a book we should all read, “Many waters cannot quench the love, nor can rivers flood it”. The fire itself, that brought its horror show to Bozeman and is still only 52% contained, taught me that when a fire explodes, water and fire retardant cannot extinguish it. Let’s be that Jew on fire, aflame with G-d and spreading that fire, that passion, everywhere.


May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Mashiach speedily. May G-d protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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