How great is our obligation to appreciate our ability to freely visit the Kotel and enjoy all of Yerushalayim.
Yocheved and I feel so blessed, honored and privileged to be spending this summer in Israel as NCSY’s Scholars in Residence for their summer programs. Hundreds and hundreds of teens benefit greatly from the diverse programs and tours that NCSY offers. Kollel and Michlelet are serious learning programs for boys and girls respectively. TJJ, led in part by our own Rabbi Broide, is bringing 10 busses filled with public school kids. Camp Give combines chesed with touring. I look forward to sharing my experiences with these incredible programs over the summer.
But for now, a general observation. I have been reading “The Prime Ministers,” by Ambassador Yehuda Avner, which recounts the behind the scenes history of the modern state of Israel from a man who witnessed and contributed to it. I can’t recommend this extraordinary book enough for the appreciation it provides of what a blessing Israel is and please God will continue to be.
As my family walked through Sha’ar Yafo (Jaffa Gate) today heading to the kotel, I shared the following story from the book with them. At 4 in the morning a few days into the 6 day war, then opposition leader Menachem Begin awoke with a premonition and turned on the radio. He heard on the BBC that a vote was occurring at the UN to pressure Israel into a cease fire with its enemies whom had been swiftly decimated. In the middle of the night, he called the Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, and begged him to call a special cabinet meeting to approve going into the Old City and conquering the remainder of Jerusalem to unite it. The meeting was called and Begin argued this could be an unique moment that history will not provide again. They must reclaim Jerusalem from the Jordanians before the international community pressured Israel to a cease fire.
A unanimous vote approved of the military operation and just 3 hours later, the now famous statement, “har ha’bayit b’yadeinu,” “the Temple Mount is in our hands” was uttered.
How fragile this precious and sacred gift is and how great is our obligation to appreciate our ability to freely visit the Kotel and enjoy all of Yerushalayim.
On behalf of my family, from the Holy City – Shabbat Shalom
I am not suggesting that we become intolerant of those who think differently or observe differently. Nor am I suggesting that we not keep a relationship with those who have strayed with the hope that they will return. However, if a person has acted in a unambiguously immoral, or unethical way, when we maintain a friendship, a closeness and an accepting stand, aren’t we impugning our own character and integrity?
We read every Friday night, ohavei Hashem sin’u rah, those that truly love Hashem, hate and reject evil and wrongdoing. Dovid Ha’Melech does not encourage us to hate the individual, but rather his choices. However, there are times when we can’t separate the person from the choices they make and if we truly love Hashem, love justice and honesty then we cannot and must not tolerate or accept the perpetration of that wrongdoing.
To be blunt – if a man refuses to give his wife a get, if a woman has had an affair and continues to hurt her family, if a person cheats in business, or if an individual perpetually and consistently speaks negatively about others, how can we remain friends with them? What does it say about us if we are buddy-buddy with them, invite them to our simcha or have them over for a bbq? What message do we send our children by accepting the unacceptable and tolerating the intolerable?
When confronted by this question, many respond, ‘I am not getting involved,’ or ‘I am not taking a position.’ What they don’t understand is not taking a position is also taking a position and it is one that is deeply offensive and hurtful to the victim of that friend’s behavior. We cannot afford to take the path of least resistance or maintain relationships because it would be too complicated to raise our voices in objection of their choices.
The Rambam writes – a person is a product of whom they surround themselves with. We are defined by our friends. Let’s choose wisely.
Our goal was to communicate that a synagogue in Florida has not stopped thinking of Gilad and his plight.
We live in a sound bite, news junkie generation in which we are constantly bombarded with information and updates. The positive of this culture is our access to current events in real time and our acute awareness of happenings around the world as they unfold. The negative of the short news cycle generation is how quickly we move on and forget events and tragedies that while they happened we claimed affected us so deeply and profoundly.
When that animal terrorist attacked Itamar and murdered many members of the Fogel family, memorials were held, monies were raised and the statement that we will never abandon the surviving Fogel children was pledged. But in truth, the Fogels became yesterday’s tragedy and now the Jewish community, perhaps correctly so, is obsessed with the murder of Leiby Kletzky. Projects have been initiated in his memory, funds are being collected on his family’s behalf and a baby was even named for him this week. But how long will it take until the Jewish community forgets about the Kletzkys and moves on to the next crisis, emergency or tragedy?
As the three weeks have begun, we would do well to remember that a commitment to unity, an effort to be part of one big close knit Jewish people, means never forgetting or moving on from both those that have caught our nation’s attention and those that suffer in anonymity.
Over five years ago, a young soldier, Gilad Shalit was taken captive by our evil enemy dedicated to our destruction. One shudders to think under what conditions Hamas is housing Gilad. We said then we won’t rest until he is home and yet, here we are over five years later with no meaningful progress made.
This week, my family and I visited with Gilad Shalit’s father, Noam, outside the Prime Minister’s residence where he sits in vigil for his son. Though only the return of his son will bring true comfort, our goal was to communicate that a synagogue in Florida has not stopped thinking of Gilad and his plight.
May we merit a time in which we only share good news and move from one happy event to another.
Shabbat Shalom from the Holy Land