The kidnapping of Eyal Yifrach, Naftali Frankel and Gilad Shayer underscores a central paradox in Israeli society– that it seems like we only know how to love each other when we hurt.
While our hearts ache for these young men, G-d only knows what sort of privations they have been subjected too these past four days, and for their families this is in its own way a beautiful time. For now, it seems that walls between us, walls of politics, religion, ethnicity, class difference, have tumbled down and everyone has only one thought–to bring these boys home.All of a sudden it is as if we all, meaning the entire Jewish people has coalesced into one organism with one heart. Externals no longer matter–whether or not one wears the garb of the religious. The pintele Yid, the Jewish spark has been activated and the words are the same. “Pray, beseech G-d, ask for a , a miracle, for these are our boys. Even the IDF effort to rescue them is named “Operation Return the Brothers.”
These are heady days and I feel very proud to be a part of the Jewish people which isn’t just a nation but one big family. What is important is that we don’t lose this moment. Whenever this crisis ends , and please G-d may it end quickly and may the boys return home safely without even a scratch or as Naftali Bennet said, a hair missing, we will return to business as usual which means hating each other.
I’m not going to enumerate the many examples of sinat hinam, the classical term for Jewish hatred of other Jews but there have been many , too many. The minute the proverbial gun is removed from our heads we resort to this behavior which we are well skilled at.
Soon the Hebrew month of Tamuz will be upon us. Unlike Sivan, it’s predecessor which is the month when the Jewish people gathered together at Mount Sinai as “one man with one heart,” Tamuz is a month that is characterized by dissention . During Tamuz the walls of Jerusalem were breached and the process that eventually lead to the destruction of the Temples began. It is an ancient Jewish teaching that the reason for this catastrophe and all subsequent Jewish catastrophes was causeless hatred, one Jew hating his brother Jew.
During these painful but precious days, we are experiencing the holiness of Jewish unity, albeit for sad reasons. Perhaps our challenge is that once this crisis is resolved and please G-d the boys are home that we can take this feeling of mutual caring and brotherhood and use it to create a Jewish people that can greet the Messiah.