Haim Amsalem 58.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The recent murders of two Jews by Jews has led to significant introspection in
the entire Jewish community especially the Orthodox community. After all, how
could a Jew brutally murder and dismember anyone, let alone an innocent child?
How could anyone, let alone a Jew, willfully murder a saintly rabbi? While these
tragic and devastating incidents certainly demand reflection, we Jews have been
“killing” each other in less graphic and obvious ways for far too many
A quick glance at modern Israeli society demonstrates my point.
Many haredim display hatred toward the secular community, with great venom and
even refer to policemen as “Nazis,” and view leaders of the state as agents of
the devil. Many secular Jews loathe haredim to the point of wishing the whole
lot would simply disappear.
Many religious Zionists view the “peace camp”
as the destroyers of Israel, while many on the Left view the settlers as the
cause of all their problems.
Aside from these divisions along religious
lines, outright racism and discrimination exist throughout our country. We do
not accept Ethiopians as equals in the academic world or the workforce. The
Rabbinate turns away Russian immigrants seeking to convert. Ashkenazi school
administrators deny admission to Sephardic children. And, despite some progress,
women have not achieved true equal rights.
While not comparing any of the
above to murder, perhaps the murders reflect a situation which all of us have
permitted and even facilitated – one in which we do not function as a loving
family. Even those among us who do not fall into any of the more extreme groups
still do not view other populations as family who love one another regardless of
THE INGATHERING of exiles should have been the time
for us to come together while continuing to discuss and even argue about our
differences of opinion.
The State of Israel should have been the vehicle
for a big family reunion – albeit with animated and lively debate – instead of a
massive family feud.
We must proactively work to transform Israel before
we can reach our full potential and create the most perfect society possible.
Once we learn to love and respect one another, everything will fall into place.
The Torah teaches, “And He [God] is King in Yeshurun (Israel) when the leaders
of the nation are gathered together,” (Deuteronomy 33:5). God can only truly be
our King, with all the national success this would imply, when we unite. This
point is so crucial that the Bible teaches that the wicked king Achav, whose
generation was steeped in idolatry, merited God’s blessing because the people
all respected one another.
The ninth of Av commemorates the destruction
of our Holy Temples and the start of a nearly 2,000-year exile. The sages of the
Talmud teach that disunity – causeless hatred – caused the Temple’s destruction,
and that redemption can only come through restoring our unity – causeless love.
We were plunged into exile because of the hatred of one Jew towards another and
salvation can only come through repairing ourselves in that realm. In other
words, we can engage in peace negotiations, defeat our enemies in wars, and even
gather en masse in the streets and tents to demonstrate against all the social
injustices imaginable, but we will not succeed in creating the utopian society
we all crave until we unify as a nation. The Zionist dream will not fully
materialize until we all relate to one another as brothers and sisters, love
each other like family, care for each other’s needs like best friends despite
our ideological differences, and recognize the role that each one of us plays as
a piece of the puzzle that creates an am shalem, a complete nation.
today be the day, especially in the wake of the two recent murders, when each
and every Jew begins a journey toward this radical shift in attitude. Once we
heed and proactively respond to this call to unity, we will empower ourselves to
fulfill our mandate of tikkun olam (repairing the world), inspiring all
humanity, and ushering in that era of peace we all so desperately seek and
need.The writer is an MK, and the founder and chairman of the Am Shalem