Over the years, the citizens of Israel knew not to cross the line and cause the state to crumble, despite whatever debates were occurring. Over the last several days, it seems as if this line may be crossed. Tisha Be’av comes to remind us that this cannot be allowed to happen.
Since the founding of the State of Israel, and long before, there have been endless disagreements among people and parties within the nation on many issues such as Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel, the character of the state, as well as many other issues that have occupied the public discourse.
These ideological battles have not ended. At all times, every government formed in Israel has been attacked from both the Right and the Left. Despite this, the State of Israel has succeeded in overcoming these battles and difficulties that have been present since its founding.
Its citizens were sufficiently wise and mature to comprehend that the value of the State of Israel is ultimately above all controversy. The different sides in the debates understood that it is permissible to disagree, to demonstrate, to shout, etc. However, there was a line that all knew could never be crossed: It is forbidden to break apart the People from within.
The State of Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, the only place on Earth that gathers Jews from all the lands of their dispersal; the only place where Jews must feel safe.
This has always been the case for the past 72 years of Israel’s existence. But lately, it seems at times as if this red line will be crossed. As part of a global trend that tries to claim the previous generations – our parents, grandparents, leaders and ministers – always were and still are corrupt and all that drives them is racism, domination and money, a group has emerged that tries to destroy all that is good. This is a movement that spits into the well from which we drink.
This group is usually supported by the media which fans the flames and often seems to even believe in the same anarchy that such groups so desperately want to see in our country. These groups stop at almost nothing to attain their goals, including inappropriate language, violence or vandalism.
Our precious home still stands firm, and it remains possible to stop these acts of incitement and complete chaos to which we are witness. We are approaching Tisha Be’av, the day of the destruction of our holy Temple. Our sages teach us that the Second Temple was not destroyed because of the power of the enemy fighting us, but because of the baseless hatred and internal disputes that crumbled our society from within.
Anyone to whom the State of Israel is dear, anyone who desires that we remain living together side by side and who doesn’t want to return us to an exile where we were dispersed amongst the nations of the world, should realize that building is not created by destruction. If we break all societal rules, we will not be doing what is necessary to mend the situation.
Building is created by caring and baseless love, baseless love even for those who are different from us and caring even for our ideological foes. It is perfectly legitimate to disagree and argue with one another, even vehemently, but this must be done in a context of mutual respect and appreciation. We cannot allow our home to crumble. It is still possible to avoid this destruction, and the sooner the better.
The writer serves as dean and founder at the Barkai Center for Practical Rabbinics and Community Development, and as rabbi of Kehillat Shaarei Yonah Menachem in Modi’in.