Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One Nation, Under God

I keep hearing how unity is impossible because everyone thinks that unity means all Jews united as long as it is under our banner, not theirs.

I do not agree at all. Certainly it would be nice if everyone saw the world exactly as I do. However even though there has to be some sort of boundary and rules for membership in the club of unity, the area of overlap is broad.

I do in fact recognize that and as a Torah nation defined by Orthodoxy there has to be some parameters put in place - lines that cannot be crossed. We cannot for example tolerate Jews for Jesus. Or movements that deny Torah MiSinai. Nor should we include groups that do not consider Halacha binding… or fringe elements of one group or another like Chabad Messianists, or the fringe of Neturei Karta who embrace our mortal enemies. And other such fanatic extremist groups. But short of that there is little else that should divide us.

Unity does not mean sameness. It means tolerance for each other's different views. One does not have to accept the views of others for themselves. We can all disagree about what we think God really wants from His people. We need only to respect the views of others as legitimate too - if not preferred. It is the de-legitimization of one group by another that causes so much of the enmity between one group and another. This does not mean we can’t criticize each other. But it does mean respecting each other.

Sefardim, Ashkenazim, Charedim, Modern Orthodox, Dati Leumi, Chasidim, Lubavitch - all of us are one people with different Hashkafos. We need only respect each other when we disagree. Kind of like we did for one brief moment in time when Yeshivat Merkaz Harav was attacked.