Thursday, June 6, 2013

"We have met the enemy..."

Yom chamishi, 28 Sivan 5773.

It's no secret that Israel is in trouble right now.

I'm not speaking about the threat from Iran with all of its obvious (to anyone not playing ostrich) bomb building.

I'm not referring to the danger at various borders caused by the hemorrhaging "Arab Spring."

Nor am I drawing attention to any "fifth column" issues within Israel's borders.

Our greatest danger is and always has been internal, within the Jewish family.

We are fighting with each other, and the fights are getting uglier.  No "side" is blameless.  The tragedy is that if we truly tried to feel what the other person might be feeling, to hear his side (even without expecting our minds to be changed through the exercise), we could not throw chairs nor invective, we could not disdain nor patronize.

דאס טוט נישט פּאַסן אונז.  Das tut nisht passn uns.  This is beneath us.

A friend has invited me to participate in a special day tomorrow.  It seems a worthwhile exercise... as long as it is the beginning of better behavior on my part, and not merely a shekel dropped one time in a pushke.  Here's what the originator of the plan, Akiva Gersh, wrote on his Facebook event notice:

Let's not wait until Tisha B'Av to think about how we can increase Jewish unity and ahavat hinam ["groundless" love] in Am Yisrael. We know what hate and intolerance have done to our people in the past. Let's not let it happen in our generation. While ahavat hinam is something we could and should focus on everyday, there's incredible strength in hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of Jews focusing on it on the same exact day, especially on Erev Rosh Hodesh. 

The idea is that, on that day (29 Sivan/Friday June 7th), each of us will perform a "random" act of kindness for at least one other Jew, ideally a Jew who comes from a different religious/political/lifestyle perspective than you. That action will send them the message that you have honor and love for them despite any differences that exist between you two, that you have honor and love for them simply because they are a fellow Jew.

May our acts of kindness on that day increase our awareness of the inherent unity that binds all Jews together and strengthen our dedication to making ahavat hinam a priority in our lives every single day.

Our Sages deal with a question about what will finally bring the Era of the Moshiach.  How could I, so lowly, so lacking in knowledge and good deeds, possibly bring the Moshiach, if Dovid HaMelech couldn't, if the Chofetz Chaim couldn't?  Chazal answer that the operation is cumulative.  Our good deeds "stand on the shoulders" so to speak of the good deeds of previous generations.  Only G-d knows which good deed will be the last one necessary.

Join me, won't you?  And if you happen to read this well after the day, don't be discouraged.  Your act of kindness, your thoughtful word, your decision to listen fully to what the other person is saying, your plan to be more careful, may just be THE act that changes everything.  YOU could singlehandedly be the person responsible for bringing the Moshiach.

No matter with what or if you cover your head; no matter if you and I agree or disagree about religion, politics, lifestyle, or child-rearing techniques -- I look forward to standing in line to thank you personally.
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