The most incredible thing about Google Maps is being able to get a bird’s eye view of pretty much any location in the world without ever leaving your home, your car or your office. Switch from Google’s default terrain mode to a satellite view and there you are, hovering above your chosen location, which in my case this week was the Kotel Hamaaravi.
While the Kotel’s magnetic pull is hard to ignore, we often lose sight of the fact that what is to us the holiest place on earth is actually just an incredibly small portion of the outer wall of the Bais Hamikdash. Seeing an aerial view of the Kotel on Google Maps was a vivid reminder of that wall’s sheer size when it stood in its entirety, and gave me a newfound appreciation for all that we mourn on Tisha B’Av.
Realizing that the Kotel is but a fractional portion of what once was a majestic structure also brought to mind another image – that of an iceberg. No matter how large an iceberg appears to be on the surface, we know that a full 90 percent of its mass lies beneath the water, information that the captain of the Titanic would have done well to heed. Given the work that I do, it was hard for me not to see yet another parallel, this one to the cases that we see at Amudim. Time and time again we find that people who reach out to us for help regarding a particular concern are invariably dealing with a much greater underlying issue and that the initial problem that they contacted us about is indicative of something much bigger that has yet to be unearthed.
Unfortunately, we live in a world today that is filled with pain and suffering. And while it’s not as if our hearts don’t go out to be people who are struggling, more often than not we fail to realize that what we are seeing is just a tiny piece of their lives, with oceans of hurt lurking just beneath the surface. With that reality in mind, it becomes even more important for us to go the extra mile for someone who is going through a difficult time in any way we can, because no matter what we think we know about their situation, chances are likely that the heartache we see is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Be the smile in their day. Shoot them a WhatsApp or invite them out for coffee or for a Shabbos meal. Take the time to listen and let them know they really matter. Those gestures might be relatively minor in the scheme of your life, but I promise you, you can’t even imagine just how much they can mean to someone who is struggling.
We cry on Tisha B’Av for a hurt so deep that it still echoes even hundreds of years later and while the Kotel is indeed just a fragment of a majestic structure that was the focal point of our national existence, its presence today can serve as a reminder to us all that there is often more than what meets the eye. As we move ahead from the sadness of Tisha B’Av to the comfort that is offered in its wake, let’s all take the time to realize that those in crisis are more in need of our help than we can ever know. It is up to each one of us to look deep within ourselves to find ways that we can be of assistance, helping individuals in pain rebuild themselves, becoming the majestic beings we know they can be.
Zvi Gluck is the CEO of Amudim, an organization dedicated to helping abuse victims and those suffering with addiction within the Jewish community and has been heavily involved in crisis intervention and management for the past 22 years. For more information go to www.amudim.org.