Yoel Oz
Co-Founder of the Abrahamic Movement

Every Month We Will Pray Together in the City of Abraham

In the Jewish tradition, the last day of every month is known as a Yom Kippur Kattan, a “Little Day of Atonement.” There is a recognition that with the end of each month, we must make a reckoning of our previous deeds and that, with the New Moon, we will (to some extent) get a fresh chance to start over again.

In the Holy Land, we have much to atone for. Instead of blaming each other self-righteously, we should each engage in introspection. We all have the ability to do better, to BE better; to strive for the Holy Other and to take better care of the Human Other.

When we approach God and each other with humility, we are at our very best. That is part of what it means to “fear the Lord”. The Psalmist proclaims “Laud Hashem, you of all Nations; praise Him, you of all Peoples. For His loving-kindness has overwhelmed us and His Truth is everlasting, Hallelujah! … Let those who Fear the Lord say: His loving-kindness is Eternal!” Those who “fear the Lord” are not only Jews. They are the great people of all nations who live in awe of the One Living God.

This was part of the mission of our Forefather Abraham in his life. He prayed for the wicked people of Sodom; he waited in the heat outside his tent to see if any strangers were passing by. He washed the feet of angels who he thought were idolaters and he followed God’s command to go out unto a land that He, God, would show him.

Many people tend to think the heart of the Israeli-Arab conflict is in Jerusalem. But before David made Jerusalem his capital, he reigned in Hebron, the city of Abraham, for 7 years. There is no doubt as to Jerusalem’s importance. But it is in Hebron, the resting place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah, where God is calling out to us, as it were, to make peace. It is Hebron that is in pain.

Jews experienced the massacre of 1929. Muslims experienced the massacre of 1994. It is enough. Hebron does not belong only to the most belligerent on each side. It belongs to all of us, and it is the place most desperately in need of healing. Sulha!

Religious leaders – and followers – of the Abrahamic faiths have a responsibility to show that true belief and faith in God results in open hearts and love of one’s fellow man. This isn’t some wishy-washy business. This is hardcore faith. Hebron is where the most intense of Jewish and Muslim believers live. These are the people inspired by God’s commands. Our passion for love, peace and truth can be no less intense.

God is Great. And God has the power to bring down the walls between His children that have hardened into hatred and fear.

So this is what I propose: on the first day of the lunar month (Rosh Hodesh), the leaders and followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, will gather at the foot of the Cave of Machpelah/the Masjid Ibrahim to pray to the God of Abraham. Muslims will recite the Shahada; Christians will recite the Lord’s Prayer; Jews will recite the Shema and the verses said at the end of Yom Kippur. And after that, the symbol of the substitute for God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son, the ram’s horn (the shofar), will be blown. And we will publicize this in all forms of media, mainstream and social.

We will repeat this month after month, until we finally break through to people’s hearts, minds and souls. And we will be fierce and relentless. Each month we will grow stronger and be more resolved to finally heal the heart of the Holy Land. If we can unlock the spirit of Hevron/Khalil, who knows how far its magic will spread. We will learn how to turn enemies into neighbors and friends. It can be done. We must have faith in that. No doubt there will be hurdles and obstacles. But with faith we can overcome anything.

Abraham taught us that sometimes you need to set out on a journey whose destination is unclear. It begins with the first steps.

“And through you (Abraham), all the families of the Earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3)

About the Author
Yoel Oz served as an Orthodox rabbi and educator in the Washington, DC metro area for five years. He studied at Cornell and Yeshiva universities and Yeshivat Hamivtar and Yeshivat Rabbenu Yitzchak Elchanan. He currently resides with his wife and daughter in a suburb of Tel Aviv and is the co-founder of the Abrahamic Movement.
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