Unity – It’s surreal and frightening
RABBI SHMUEL BLOCH
It started with the evil abduction of the three teenagers. Nobody knew where they were or what their fate was. For 18 days old and young, religious and secular, left, right and everybody in between davened for them. They davened for them at the Kosel. They davened for them in the Knesset.
They davened for them in the streets. Posters were everywhere and the #bringbackourboys campaign was in full swing. The atmosphere was tense and yet remarkably, the entire Jewish people suddenly forgot their petty issues and became unified through fear, worry and consternation as to what the outcome will be. This unity was palpable and the Jewish people came together as one family. We were there to witness it firsthand.
This unity became even stronger and tighter once the horrid and bitter news of their murder became known. People talked how these three boys achieved what seemed impossible- they unified the nation. This feeling of togetherness, that we are all one, even in the direst of circumstances, helped assuage the immense grief and sorrow that every person felt at that time.
The unity that existed before accelerated
Then the rockets started falling and Operation “Protective Edge” began. The unity that existed before accelerated and transformed into something that many thought could never happen. The entire country supported the government and the army with almost universal approval. Across the entire political spectrum, disagreements dissipated, ideological debates disappeared and the notorious government in fighting rapidly and swiftly ceased. On the ground, everybody from the north to the south were involved in helping and assisting the soldiers in a variety of ways. From the Mir Yeshiva with 8000 students to the Hebrew Gymnasia School, the message was crystal clear: We are at war. The Jewish people are one family. We care about each other and will help each other in any way possible during this difficult time.
Maccabi Haifa, a football club, sent out a message to its fans to attend the funeral of Sean Carmeli in Haifa. He was a lone soldier, and the club was worried that his funeral would be sparsely attended. Over 18000 people responded to the call.
More than 30000 people attended the funeral of Max Steinberg in Jerusalem, another lone soldier originally from California. Most of those who came never knew him and yet when interviewed, people said they came to show appreciation for his sacrifice and wanted to provide some measure of comfort to his family.
IDF had Siyata Dishmaya (help from Hashem)
Every person without exception that you spoke to in Israel would tell you that the success that the IDF achieved was due to the amazing unity that saturated Israel at that time. Whether it was the neutralization of all the tunnels or the thwarting of future terror attacks, the IDF had amazing Siyata Dishmaya (help from Hashem) in carrying out its duty. By appreciating and loving our fellow Jew with a real lasting love, we changed the course of Israeli history.
Unity does not mean we all share the same opinion and must all think the same way. Rather, unity is often understood in terms of an orchestra. Each instrument is different and sounds different. Yet, when each instrument is played in its right time, at the right speed together in tandem with the other instruments, then the most beautiful and exquisite music is produced.
War generates introspection and forces us to focus on what is really important in our lives. War compels us to re-examine our priorities and realize the urgency and significance of appreciating the gifts that Hashem has given us. War requires that we pierce the illusion that trivial and insignificant things are critical to our wellbeing. Thus, when all of this happens during wartime, unity and clarity of purpose happen almost automatically.
The challenge of unity is that it should not have to take a war for all of us to become united and joined into a cohesive whole. Why Chas Veshalom (God Forbid) do we get the message and come together in times of tragedy, grief, and sorrow.
What about in times of joy?
True it is harder, but unity is so much more effective and long lasting when it is generated by joining in somebody else’s simcha and appreciating all the good that Hashem has given us. There is so much to be grateful for. All we need to do is focus on what we have instead of what is missing.
Today, three weeks after Operation “Protective Edge” is that unity among the Jewish people still there? I certainly hope so even though newspapers and the media are reporting otherwise. It really is surreal and frightening to think how incredibly devoted we were to each other at that time and now with life “back to normal” we could overlook and forget what we achieved due to daily stress and pressure. We cannot lose those incredible gains that were made. We need to build on that foundation and increase unity among Jews wherever we live.
In our day and age, with Anti-Semitism thriving and flourishing, unity among the Jewish people is needed more than ever before. We need to instill and internalize into our mindset that the Jewish people are one family and no matter what the external circumstances are, we will always be there for each other.
Let us stand tall as proud Jews and let us recognize what a privilege and pleasure being Jewish really is.
- Rabbi Shmuel Bloch has recently returned to Joburg from Israel after serving as the Rabbi of the PE Hebrew Congregation for the past three years. He is a graduate of the Ohr La’golah Rabbinic training program which is run under the auspices of Ohr Somayach Israel. Rabbi Bloch is passionate about enabling people to discover and explore the wonder and beauty of being Jewish. He is a popular speaker for businesses and corporations where he presents the “Rabbi Secrets” seminar. “Rabbi Secrets” provides transformational tools for companies to harness and increase their creativity and productivity. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org