Circles of Justice (Yom Hashoa)

מזמור לדוד ה’ רועי לא אחסר. בנאות דשא ירביצני על מי מנוחות ינהלני. ינחני במעגלי צדק למען שמו. גם כי אלך בגיא צלמוות – לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי. שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמוני”.

What did King David mean by saying “מעגלי צדק“? Literally, “מעגלי צדק” are the just circles that Hashem is guiding us through, but why is it described as circles? According to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak from Berditchev those circles imply to complications and ordeals.

In this world, there are things that happen, simply, clearly and calmly. Nevertheless, the large-scale events usually happen with complications and twists – with עיגולים. It is the largest acts of redemption that are fraught with complicated maneuvers. The Galut, explains Kedushat Halevi, is the
cause of the Geulah, just as evil is the cause for good and the catastrophe is the reason for the revival. It is all ONE long-complex-rounded process with Am Yisrael is going through.

Candles Burning in Darkness(“לית נהורא, אלא כההוא דנפיק מגו חשוכא” (זוהר

There is no brighter light than the light that is emitted from out of the
darkness. (Zohar)

This idea is summarized in psalm 23 in Tehillim:

“גם כי אלך בגיא צלמוות – לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי. שבטך ומשענתך המה ינחמוני”.

“Even as I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, you, God, are alongside me. Your rod and your staff comfort and support me”. The rod is part of the staff. The blows we may receive from Hashem along the way are part of his shepherd’s supervision. The shepherd guides us “במעגלי צדק- with justice, but with complications and twists. We understand that there are “complications with justice”. There is a direction and a reason for everything, guidance, and a “shepherd” who is looking over us. The blows we receive are for our own sake, and return us to safe pastures.

This is exactly the message of “שמע ישראל”, the pasuk which the Jews were crying out while standing in the valley of death. “Hear oh Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is ONE.” Everything that happens to us and everything that would happen, the good and the bad, the successes and the
failures, are not disconnected from each other. Hashem created darkness and created light, made peace and created war, and often, all those occur amid complications.

Saying the Shema, from the time it was said by Rabbi Akiva at the moment of his death, has become the symbol of ‘קידוש ה’. Even in the middle of atrocity, Rabbi Akiva knew to put things in greater perspective, just as he knew to laugh when he saw a fox emerge from the ruins of the Beit Hamikdash. He was aware and had faith that just as the negative part of the prophecy of destruction had taken place, so too would the prophecy of the complete redemption of the Land and the Nation of Israel.

Therefore, the recitation of the Shema had impressed upon Am Yisrael the idea of Kiddush Hashem, even in times of extreme horror and hell. In such times, all Jews recite : “שמע ישראל ה’ אלוקינו ה’ אחד”

Light and darkness, good and evil- all of them are rooted in the Ribbono shel Olam. The source of our faith is just as He is our rod, He is also our staff, who loves His children for eternity. This
insight provides our comfort. “גם כי אלך בגיא צלמוות – לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי”.

Rav Ronen Neuwirth #1Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth is the Executive Director of Beit Hillel and the Rav of Congregation Ohel Ari in Ra’anana. He served as Director of the Overseas Department of Tzohar and as the Rabbi of Bnei Akiva of North America. He also served as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and is a former captain in the Israeli Navy Special Forces.


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