The Fabric of Community

The Fabric of Community

There is an untapped power. The power of prayer. The power of a name. The power of a wish. I always knew about it. I always believed in it. I have rarely seen it with the intensity of the past few days.

Built into Judaism is the concept of community. Jewish law and custom is emphatic as to the role and responsibility of community in our personal lives. Tragedy and success, mourning and rejoicing must be public affairs. We are mandated to inform the community. The community is the fabric of our social lives and as more than one philosopher has pointed out, man is a social animal.

The image of an actual fabric became a metaphor for me of community. I imagined my brother-in-laws current crisis as a fragile thing falling. A piece of pottery, perhaps a small crystal. I saw the community as the surface that catches the crystal. If the community is unresponsive, uncaring, uninformed, the crystal smashes into pieces as on a cold heartless stone floor, or sinks as lead in water, never to rise.

However, if it is a fabric, something with some give, some flexibility, there is hope. But the fabric needs to do more than just catch the crystal. The crystal needs to get some bounce. It needs to be launched up again.

I think of a popular activity at Bar-Mitzvahs. The boys take a large tablecloth and place the Bar-Mitzvah boy in the middle. All the boys take a hold of the edge of the tablecloth and together they launch the Bar-Mitzvah boy higher and higher.

Now I think of all the people praying for Ilan. Each is grabbing a hold of the fabric. Or perhaps each is part of the fabric itself. The threads that bind us in the tapestry of life. If we are strong, if we are united, if we hold on to each other, we have the power to raise those that have fallen.

After the first surgery, we were informed that Ilan only had hours left. We informed our community of his plight. In our day of instant communication, our community encompasses people all over the world and from different walks of life and religions.

An outpouring of prayer and wishes for Tzvi Ilan ben Gita coalesced. The threads came together. Prayer groups formed in the Five Towns, Alon Shvut and Efrat. Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv, Haifa, London, Miami, Caracas, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul and more cities around the globe prayed. The fabric formed around Ilan in prayer and gave him some bounce. When we thought it was the end, we were given hope.

Ilan is still in great danger. The next days remain critical for his survival and recovery. I’m sure God has his own plans and destiny for Ilan, but we need to do what we can.

Before the Sabbath I discussed the case with a doctor friend of mine and he gave a prescription that I believe is not atypical for an Israeli doctor. “Yes, I’ve seen cases like this before. He needs a lot of prayer. That can pull him through.”

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