This week, we marked (but could not celebrate) the first birthday of Kfir Bibas. After more than 100 days in captivity, he remains in the greatest danger, a baby, and a victim of this terrible war. We pray that he is safe and sound, but as we cannot know, we also cannot celebrate.
In this week's Torah reading, we usually focus on the positive, on the fact that this week marks the beginning of our Exodus from slavery. This is true. However, the happy narrative obscures the fact that many Jews were not able to leave Egypt. Next week, we will read that the Jews who left Egypt are called "chamushim." The Hebrew word is rare, and we cannot be sure of its translation. However, it might mean that only a fifth of the Jewish population could leave. Amongst all the happiness, the Exodus from Egypt was also a time of significant loss.
The Torah was written after the Exodus was finished. It was easy (and good) to look at the positive, to emphasise that we had gone free. The Torah emphasises the happiness of the story to help cement our national identity. We see this at other times in our history. Purim, Chanukah, Yom Ha'atzma'ut, and Yom Yerushalayim all marked events that carried great pain, but ultimately resulted in Jewish victory.
This war has already brought significant loss to the Jewish people. First, so many died on Simchat Torah. Then, our soldiers went into danger to protect us and to save those taken hostage. We are still in the middle of that pain. However, we can hope and pray that one day, we will look at these terrible events in a different light. They will never be positive. They will never be happy. But hopefully, soon, after an Israeli victory, we can look back on a time of great love and Jewish unity when we all stepped up for each other and helped each other through the pain.
May it be Hashem's will that shortly, Kfir Bibas and all the hostages will be freed, not to make right what has happened. It can never be fixed. Rather, to allow them to rebuild their lives, and all of us with them.