Bais Yaakov’s Baltimore Alumnae Event took place this past Wednesday night, July 17th in the High School’s M. Leo Storch Auditorium. It was a beautiful night of reunion, inspiration, and connection. Alumnae spanning almost a decade of graduating classes from ‘09-’17 and from various stages of life came together for words of chizzuk from both Rabbi Yechezkel Zweig and Mrs. Josie Vegh. The speeches were also accompanied by a beautiful buffet, a door prize raffle, BY paraphernalia giveaways, and quality time to catch up with classmates and friends. The event was generously sponsored by Mrs. Lois (Shulman) Volosov, class of ’68.
Rabbi Zweig opened his divrei bracha with thoughts on last week’s Parsha, where Moshe Rabbeinu hit the rock. In this story, Moshe is punished for hitting the rock instead of speaking to it, yet the Bnei Yisroel aren’t punished for complaining about being taken out of Egypt to die of thirst in the desert. We know Moshe Rabbeinu did a sin, but didn’t Klal Yisroel also sin? In many other instances, such as Mei Meriva, Bnei Yisroel were punished for their complaints. What was different here? The Ramban explains that Hashem’s response was different here because their complaints here came from more than just boredom or rebellion. Here, their behavior stemmed from deep, legitimate discomfort. We learn from here that when those around us behave inappropriately due to real suffering, we must put our reactions to the negativity aside and consider the context of their behavior. We need to see the human being in the picture and help alleviate their suffering first, through a response of compassion and caring. Rabbi Zweig went on to note that this was the kind of warmth and caring we received from our teachers in Bais Yaakov: they fostered an environment of compassion and caring, of understanding during our more difficult challenges, and of inspiration and motivation to progress and grow.
As expected, Mrs. Vegh did not disappoint in her witty and entertaining delivery of words of inspiration and chizzuk. She reminded us that we are soldiers fighting a war, made up of our own unique and individual battles. And the most important thing to have when you are fighting a war is a solid LIFELINE. Our lifeline will keep our connection to our yahadus, to Hakadosh Baruch Hu, and to each other alive. It could be a shiur, a sefer, a mentor. Regardless, we need to have a continual source of inspiration. It’s not just about surviving our battles: it is about thriving and coming out victorious. Drawing from Rabbi Lopiansky, Mrs. Vegh spoke about three main steps to forming a lifeline. Firstly, we need to create a society around us that holds us accountable to our values, reinspires us to stick to our goals, and acts as a support network. Secondly, we need to seek guidance from someone who can help us see through the lens of Torah. Lastly, we need to TALK TO HASHEM. He is our General in this war, and He can guide us through any battle. Every individual needs to tailor these steps into her own life: either way, the key is to keep holding on to that lifeline. It will do more than simply help you stay alive, it will help you thrive.