Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Is This the End of Baseless Hatred?

File photo of Beltz Hassidim in Jerusalem, Israel (VIN)
There are lots of good things happening for the Jewish people now. One may find that a bit difficult to accept in light of all the rocket attacks, tunnel attacks, and soldiers killed or wounded in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. But it is nevertheless true.

This is of course not to say that we are all in a state of euphoria about those good things. We aren’t nor should we be. We are now suffering greatly at the loss of life and continued danger to the soldiers… and the continued fear by the people of Israel living under constant rocket attack. If I were in Israel right now, I would be wondering if the next rocket to be fired in my direction will be the one not be intercepted by Iron Dome.

Nonetheless, there is something very significant to celebrate despite out troubles. It is an unprecedented Achdus the likes of which has never been seen.

First of all just about every Jew supports what Israel is doing now.  Even J-Street. While there will always be the ‘useful idiot’ Jew who demonstrates against Israel along with our enemies - by the widest of margins the support for Israel is at its greatest level since the 6 day war, in my humble opinion. 

As for international support, things have changed for the better there too. Egypt considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Christian Arabs in Haifa have rallied in support of Israeli.

Saudi Arabia blames Hamas for the current situation… as does PA President Mahmud Abbas. Atypically the UN has actually condemned Hamas too. And as of yet (to the best of my knowledge) there has been no move by the UN to condemn Israel.

That means that this is Israel’s best opportunity to date to ‘finish the job’ of defanging Hamas.

But even this fact is not the one to celebrate the most. It is the incredible Achdus shown by all of Orthodox Jewry. Gone are the shrill voices of condemnation of Israeli leaders. No one is Amalek anymore. The army is no longer called a cesspool of assimilation or a social engineering experiment. I have not heard one Dati Jew or even secular Jew calling Charedim parasites… or any other disparaging names.  No one is calling for the destruction of the evil government. It’s all about supporting the soldiers in unison. And about helping them wherever they can – both with prayers and actions.

Some of the most implacable Charedi opponents of the State who in the not so distant past were heard to curse the State, it’s leaders, and its institutions (including the IDF) are out in droves doing whatever they can to help.

This morning I read of many Chasidic Rebbes (Belz,Ger,and Vizhnitz among others) canceling summer vacations and programs for their students… asking them to stay in the Yeshiva and to continue studying and praying for the soldiers.

Mishpacha Magazine (Hebrew Edition) featured  tributes bios of the fallen soldiers.

The Bostoner Rebbe of Har Nof visited soldiers near the Gaza border to give them encouragement and Brachos.

The Satmar Rebe of Kiryas Joel has mandated 5 chapters of Tehillim be said daily after Shacharis during  the war.

Even Shas spiritual head R’ Shalom Cohen traveled to the grave site of his spiritual mentor and predecessor, R' Ovadia Yosef, to pray for the safety of our soldiers..

There are so many stories of people doing things to help – and uniting in common cause, that it makes one believe that Achdus may actually possible in my lifetime. Even the hotbed of Charedi-Dati acrimony, Ramat Bet Shemseh has come together recently in prayer.

Perhaps this time, we will not return to the acrimonious days of the past. Perhaps now we can all work together towards a common goal of friendship and brotherhood. Perhaps we can all learn how to compromise without selling out our values… and learn to respect our differences. Maybe the troubles we now face will  turn into a major teaching moment for ourselves and for our children. 

We know that the Bayis Sheni (Second Temple) was destroyed because of Sinas Chinam - baseless hatred. We are in the middle of commemorating that sad event which will culminate in a few days with the Fast of Tisha B’Av. May it be God’s will that we learn our lesson well and that next year Tisha B’Av will be transformed into the great and joyous holiday the Talmud promises us in messianic times.