Cast your minds back to the period before 7th October.

Jewish press around the world contained reflections on fifty years since the Yom Kippur war. Israel was no longer threatened with an existential threat from without. Considerable progress had been made on normalising relations with the Gulf States, and an agreement was even being worked out with Saudi Arabia. True, the residents of the south had to live with regular threats of rockets from Gaza, but Israel’s Iron Dome defence systems were making life manageable. The main challenge lay not from the outside, but from within with the deep divisions over legal reform.

And then, we awoke to the nightmare from which we have not yet emerged.

There is a striking lesson to be learned here, from across Jewish history, drawn from the opening of this week’s parasha.

“Jacob settled in the land where his father had lived as a stranger.” (Bereishit 37:1).

Says the Midrash: “Jacob sought to dwell in peace; immediately there broke upon him the storm of Joseph.” Jacob had suffered during his time with Laban. The long years with Laban meant he had been absent when his mother died. He had to face an existential encounter with Esau. He grieved at the loss of his beloved wife, Rachel, as she died in childbirth. Finally reunited with his father, Isaac, he looked to settle down with his family to a more peaceful existence in the land of Israel. Then, tragedy struck with the disappearance of Joseph. The Midrash sharply adds: “Is it not enough for the righteous that they will enjoy serenity in the next world, that they wish to dwell in tranquility in this world too?”

What the Midrash is teaching us is that prior to the Messianic Era, we will always face challenges. There will be periods when we enjoy a peaceful existence. But do not be surprised if the tables turn.

This doesn’t mean that we should be fatalistic, thinking it doesn’t matter what we do because nations of the world will hate us anyway. On the contrary. We are required to act responsibly, doing our best to role model Torah values to ourselves and to others. As individuals, as communities in the diaspora, and as a nation in our precious holy land we must strive to the highest standards.

We may feel deeply disappointed and saddened when some of those whom we thought were our friends let us down. But the lesson of Jewish history is, do not be surprised.

Our challenge is to channel our pain into growth and to keep focus on what is good. We have seen an amazing upsurge in acts of generosity, selflessness and spiritual growth within the community and from outside the Jewish community as well. Our task is to support one another until such time that this crisis is over. Please G-d, we will prevail.