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Shelo Echad Bilvad 2024 – from Oct 7th to Apr 14th

“For not only one has risen up against us to annihilate us, but in every generation they rise up against us to annihilate us” (Passover Haggadah)

Asks Likutei Yehuda in the name of the Sfat Emet: why the language, ‘shelo echad bilvad’, i.e. ‘not only one’? Why not say that ‘many’ have risen against us? Or why not leave out the first clause altogether and simply say ‘in every generation they rise up against us to annihilate us’?

The answer: because ‘shelo echad bilvad’ refers not to them but to us – it’s true meaning: ‘when we are not united as one’, they rise up to annihilate us. And on October 7th they did.

October 7th was about disunity.

In a purely naturalistic mechanical sense, disunity impaired Israel’s institutions, leaving the country open to an attack of the kind it had never suffered before.

In a spiritual sense, October 7th signified a lessening of Hashem’s protection, G-d forbid, as it is written in Psalm 124: ‘Had it not been that the Lord was with us when men rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive in their burning rage against us’.

But the tragedy of October 7th was more than that. It was a fiery message to all parts of Israel’s fractured society, delivered through the combination of place and time.

To those on the secular left, coming immediately after the desecration of Yom Kippur in Tel Aviv, and a long campaign to undermine Israel’s economy and military, the message was place – secular kibbutzim and an all-night rave music festival. (May Hashem return the hostages and comfort the mourners and survivors.)

But to those on the religious right, those who were responsible for knowingly unleashing judicial reform in the most divisive possible manner, the message was time – the day of joy, the day of Torah (Simchat Torah); the day (Shemini Atzeret) on which Hashem is saying to the Jewish people, ‘please stay with me one more day, it is difficult for Me to part with you’.

On April 13-14th, once more they rose up to annihilate us. But this time they did not.

That October 7th is linked to April 13-14th may be interpreted through a literary technique for biblical interpretation known as ‘mila mancha’ (leitwort, leading word) – per Professor Yonatan Grossman: ‘a word that draws the reader’s attention in a special way because of their constant repetition in a narrative or in a narrative cycle’.

Yeshurun.

In the weeks prior to October 7th: ‘And Yeshurun became fat and rebelled; you grew fat, thick and rotund’ (Deuteronomy 32:15)

On October 7th, towards the start of the day’s Torah reading: ‘And He was King in Yeshurun, whenever the sum total of the people were gathered, and the tribes of Israel were together,’ (Deuteronomy 33:5)

And on October 7th, towards the end of the day’s Torah reading: ‘Yeshurun, there is none like God; riding the heavens to help you, through the skies in His majesty…’ (Deuteronomy 33:26)

On October 7th, the tribes of Israel had ‘become fat and rebelled’, they had forgotten the salvation that modern Israel represents for the Jewish people, the miracles on which modern Israel has been founded and continues to exist; as Ben Gurion said: ‘to be a realist in Israel, you must believe in miracles’. The tribes were not together.

But on April 13-14th, Hashem rode the heavens to help us. The whole world was witness.

G-d willing, perhaps this may be a sign that Hashem’s protection has been restored, at least for now; Hashem’s sign that even this artificial, fragile unity that pervades Israel post-October 7th is precious to Him, that we should cling to it for our dear lives.

April 13-14th 2024 was also notable as the juncture between two Torah readings that are normally read as one: Parshat Tazria, the reading for the week leading up to April 13th, which deals with tzaraat, the spiritual skin disease likened to but very different from leprosy; and Parshat Metzora, the reading for the week starting April 14th, which deals with the healing and purification of the person who has tzaraat.

Ask Chazal, why, when elsewhere that person is called tzarua, does the Torah refer to the person as a metzora?

Because metzora is a contraction of ‘motzei shem ra’ – that person spoke wickedly about their fellows. This seems to be the sin of Israel during the period of judicial reform and the reaction to it.

The fate of Israel, in the wake of the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust?

To become isolated among the nations, like the tzarua/metzora banished from the camp, with torn clothes, covered mouths, and the shout of ‘unclean unclean’.

On April 13-14th, the nations came to Israel’s rescue. The tzarua had become a cleansed and purified metzora, welcomed back into the camp… at least for now. The story isn’t over.

My prayer for Pesach 5784: victory over those who would deny the Jewish people their rights to self-determine as a nation in their ancestral homeland; the immediate return of the hostages to their loved ones; comfort for the mourners and survivors; respite and healing for all the innocent, whoever they are; wisdom and integrity for our leaders, political, religious, economic and cultural; a renewed appreciation that it is Hashem and only Hashem who is in control of our fate as a people; and unity among the Jewish people, which is what Hashem demands of us.

We need a very serious commitment to unity, G-d willing. We have been warned.

About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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