During the summers, my children attend a camp at which they take advantage of the gorgeous weather and surroundings which Israel affords to do tiyulim (hikes), all over our country. The first day of camp, I walked my youngest daughter to the meeting point. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a slender girl and her mother walking hesitantly towards the meeting point. The young girl wore the most elegant clothing, clothing which my daughters would only don on special occasions and on Shabbat, which stood out amidst the landscape of T-shirts and baseball caps.
“Is this how you will be dressed for the tiyul?” Asked the camp counselor. The girl did not answer. After a pause, her mother answered in heavily French-accented Hebrew: “Were we supposed to bring anything else for camp?”
– “Yes, of course. Did you read the camper’s handbook?”
– “No, I could not understand it. I’m a new immigrant, I’ve only been living in the country for a few months. Will she not be able to attend camp today?”
– “Sadly, no because of how she is dressed.”
End of story? Think again. Within five minutes, fellow mothers emerged from every angle with hiking clothing and camp necessities in hand. This one handed her sweatpants, another a sandwich and a bottle of cold water. Another pulled out an extra pair of sneakers and gave the girl a backpack and a hat. Within minutes, the young French girl was equipped with everything and more that she needed for a day in camp.
This event became etched in my mind and is an event that I often think about throughout the day. One little girl in a foreign place and a lot of good women who refused to see the little girl disappointed. What mobilization, good will and sensitivity was displayed. Understanding the distress of another and placing ourselves in the shoes of someone else.
This is what gives me hope for the future. There is a famous saying of Rabbi Kook: “The Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred, the Third Temple will be built because of the unconditional love.” We speak a lot about the destructiveness of hatred; but what about the constructive power of love? Let’s begin to speak more about love, and then we will reveal more and more that the love we share far outweighs that which we do not.
Let us do this for every person, whether for a friend, a fellow compatriot or a new immigrant to Israel. Without warrant, and with lots of love.