In this season of contemplation, the one indestructible “tie that binds” the tragedies of the over 2,000 deaths on September 11, 2001, to the death toll of Israeli soldiers and civilians from the recent Gaza War is the “Gift of Love.”
While our enemies succeeded in destroying the physical structures of the Twin Towers and raining missiles on our cities, they could not destroy the outpouring of love and unity that resulted from these events.
In both cases, the feelings of national unity and the expressions of love and caring reached unimaginable proportions. In Israel over the last 2 months, we have seen grassroots efforts throughout society to appreciate the sacrifices made by our soldiers and to support the residents of the South. In the United States, 47 million people observed 9-11 last year by doing good deeds.
For me, the most poignant memories are the last recorded words expressed by the passengers on United Flight 93 and text messages sent by IDF soldiers about to enter Gaza: “I love you”. That is the “Gift of Love” that overcomes all the terror and the fear that our enemies can threaten us with. That ability, when death stares us in the face, to express the most powerful human emotion to our loved ones.
The most powerful acronym for the month of Elul is: “I am to my beloved as my beloved is to me”. This is the ultimate expression of the love between the Jewish people and our Creator, but it also expresses the love between two people for whom marriage is the ultimate union.
As we count down to Rosh Hashanah, we have the opportunity to reconnect with our spouses and children by investing in our relationships. At the recent Tu B’Av Date Night event, organized in Jerusalem by the amuta “Together in Happiness/B’Yachad B’Osher”, Professor Howard Markman said: When crises happen in a community, we turn inwards. We think about the people who are most important to us – our spouses, our parents, our children. We recognize the importance of those relationships, and it can inspire us to work harder to make them stronger.”
The greatest testimony to the “Gift of Love” is the ferocity and determination with which our enemies try to destroy it. At this time of year, when many people may be feeling lonely and left out, we should all make an extra effort to reconnect with our family – both actual relatives and also the larger family of Am Yisrael. If we can do so, there is no doubt that we can defeat those enemies who want to sever the “tie that binds”.