The first time I finally felt something was by the asara harugei malkus. The ten martyrs.
An elderly Jew in Shul who is a Holocaust survivor came over to me. He told me that he gets very upset by this part of the tefilla. While the martyrs were being slaughtered in the most heinous fashion, the angels asked Hashem, "Is this Torah and is this its reward"? Hashem answered by saying, "if I hear another sound I will turn the universe to water".
This elderly man said to me that if he were in their shoes, he would have called G-d's bluff and told G-d, go right ahead. Turn the universe to water. I dont want to live to witness this. He went on to tell me each and every one of his family members that died in concentration camps. He told me about his father who was a simple but righteous man, who was killed. I was moved to tears.
I couldn't share with the old man about my own mini holocaust. I don't know if its wrong for me to call my personal struggles and my life history a holocaust. But I suspect everyone in their own hell, lives their own holocaust. I wanted to say to him that I share his sentiment. I sometimes feel like I would say to G-d, end it all. Turn the world to water. Is this Torah and is this its reward?
But the old man inspired me because ultimately, with all he went through, he still comes to shul 3 times a day. He still greets people with a smile and he still wants to live. Amazing isn't it? Where does he have the strength for this? On one hand he says he wants to confront G-d and demand answers. Yet he is comfortable serving this same G-d with warmth and joy.
I couldn't control myself and in a spurt of raw emotion I gave him a hug and just held him for a few seconds.
Oh to be blessed with a hundredth of this man's emotional fortitude.
Why must I go to extremes? How can I learn to balance the love with the struggle? I guess this is the journey I am on.
And so another year begins...