It is very seldom that I am inspired by a pop song. Yet just yesterday, this was exactly what happened. On a long hot Shabbat summer afternoon, I was playing hide-and-go-seek with my adorable, rambunctious 4-year-old son. It was my turn to hide and the obvious hiding place was in a small and mildly claustrophobic playhouse in our neighborhood park. The house comes complete with benches, steps and an actual roof and provides a lot of littlies with a much needed respite from the blinding, searing sun. I thought that my son would find me immediately, but as he wandered around the park searching for me, for what felt like an eternity, I was afforded the somewhat dubious honor of sharing this playhouse with two cute and snotty small children who were singing a botched and tuneless rendition of a new Israeli pop song entitled Shevet Achim VeAchayot, a tribe of brothers and sisters. It’s a song that took more than two years to produce, with 35 Israeli singers filming their individual parts on their smartphones and it was filmed throughout Israel. It’s a song expressing a profound love for the land of Israel and a desire never to leave, and that although our forefathers formed the roots, deeply entrenched in the land, we are the culmination of those efforts, the flowers, the melodies.
And it hit me. We, the Jewish people, are quite literally a tribe of brothers and sisters. Our brothers and sisters look so very different to us and act in strange and unfathomable ways, ways that we don’t want to understand. We replace what should be feelings of unity and a sense of community with divisiveness; and when we don’t agree with the actions of our siblings, who seem to be so very other to us, we very vocally lash out with angry tirades. In our minds, we create a contest of us versus them, a contest from which we always emerge unscathed as the winners.
We forget that we are surrounded by millions of people whose utmost wish and desire is our annihilation. We forget that at the end of the day, we only really have each other. Because that’s what family is. It shouldn’t be profound; it should be obvious. But sometimes we forget. And it takes two tuneless and very snotty nosed children on a long and lazy summer’s afternoon to remind us.