Monday, August 30, 2010

Jew to Jew

by Aliza Davidovit

Israeli actors boycott other Israeli citizens, forgetting that all we have is one another. If we act with such hatred, why are we surprised at anti- Semites?
I’m sure mothers are the same in every ethnic group but please oblige me if I pick on Jewish mothers because it’s 
If the blood or bone marrow of a Jew you disagree with or hate was the only one that could save your child’s or your life, would you reject it? Of course not.
just plain fun. Last weeks’ Bible reading in which G-d lists 98 curses that will befall the Jewish people if they don’t behave reminded me of a Jewish mother’s warning every time her child leaves the house: wear your hat or you’ll catch pneumonia; don’t forget lunch or you’ll get an ulcer; park close to the door or you’ll get mugged; call me as soon as you get there or my blood pressure will go up and you won’t have a mother to worry about you, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Then they bid you to have a good day. We didn’t even leave the house yet and we are already advised of 98 ways our lives will be ruined.
Perhaps the above approach does not engender the current trends of positive thinking and of course, G-d's warnings are for real transgressions and the results may be negative natural consequences or punishments meted out by Him. But one thing is sure, every advisory, from G-d and our mothers is packed with deep, deep love. Our souls are all on journeys and when they leave their heavenly house they too are not sent off with such platitudes as “have a nice trip,” but rather are given warnings and codes of behavior. It’s almost like a travel advisory from the State Department.
But when G-d hides his face from his people and our dear mothers are no longer, who is left to love us? Judaism teaches that each Jew must love the other and watch out for his physical and spiritual well being because even though one may be on the political left and the other on the right, they are in essence part of one body and the injury of any part is deleterious to the whole.
The one thing that can sustain the Jewish people is their love and respect for each other--just as Rabbi Hillel summed up the entire Bible by saying what is hateful to you do not do to another. The Second Temple was destroyed not as a punishment for lascivious behavior but because Jews showed hatred toward each other and lack of compassion, love and understanding.
As a people we cannot preserve ourselves or what we love by hating each other. There are times when the religious right frustrates me and there are times when liberal leaning Jews exasperate me. But just as Hitler did not discriminate over which Jew he hated, the antidote for our people is that we can’t discriminate over which Jew we love. In the open courtyards the Nazis stripped Jews down to nakedness and there were no rich or poor, liberal or conservative, religious or secular. The verse in Deuteronomy saying “You are standing today, ALL OF YOU, before Hashem, your G-d” was meant for Mount Sinai, but returned to have a horrendous meaning in the Holocaust. 
On the eve of the high holidays, all Jews must recognize that we are responsible for one another which also means that as a Jew when you engage in the secular world, in business, and in all affairs you must conduct yourself with decency and integrity so that when the next Jew walks into the building there are no aspersions cast upon him because of your dealings.
My friends, if the blood or bone marrow of a Jew you disagree with or hate was the only one that could save your child’s or your life, would you reject it? Of course not! So, don’t be so quick in hating. Our survival is symbiotic whether you like it or not. The mitzvah of ahavas Yisrael (Jews loving one another) is said to be the deed which hastens the coming of the Messiah. If we don’t love each other, why are we surprised that anti-Semites hate us? Yes, we are our brother’s keeper, so here, take my hat. It’s a cold, cold world out there.
Elul 20, 5770 

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