June 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
June 18, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Vayichan sham Yisrael; klal Yisrael was not only at the foot of the mountain, but at the foot of their greatest achievement, their highest calling. This would require absolute unity. There was no other way to hear the word of God and accept the Torah.

We are all aware that the second Temple was destroyed because of sinat chinam. Torah was studied, mitzvot were observed, acts of charity were performed. Yet the consequence of sinat chinam could not be negated by all the other good that was done.

This famous Talmudic passage has been the subject of countless sermons. Still, it appears that few have stopped hating as a result. Perhaps this is because the Talmud limits its condemnation to “groundless hatred,” and few are ready to acknowledge that their hatred is without basis. Most people assume that the Talmud’s condemnation applies to other people’s hatreds, not their own.

The Baal Shem Tov said that there are three things people should devote themselves to: ahavat haTorah, ahavat Hashem, and ahavat Yisrael. Someone once asked him: How is it possible to develop love for Hashem? We can’t see Him, we can’t touch Him, we can’t feel Him. The Baal Shem Tov said, “You work on developing ahavat Yisrael. That will lead you to ahavat Hashem.”

If you think of those people who labor for achdut, invariably you will notice that these are the most mature individuals, with no self-serving agendas. Those who do not heed the call to achdut are just the opposite. I have some powerful examples of this, but I am reticent to cite them in a public forum.

Babies come into the world with a clenched fist. Babies come in wanting it all. So what bracha do we give a baby at his brit? Ze hakatan gadol yehiye—let this little one become big, become a giver.

Vayigdal Moshe can also be read as “became a gadol, a great person.” What made Moshe a gadol was that he did not remain in the lap of luxury in the palace of Pharaoh. Vayeitzei el echav vaya’ar besivlotam—he went out among his brothers and shared their agony. That’s a gadol—one who thinks about others.

Will we use this wake-up to bond together? Or forge on, business as usual? As incredible as it sounds, even during the Holocaust, the enmity between competing Jewish groups delayed the coordination of efforts to resist the Nazis. It is not well known, but there were two different armed Jewish undergrounds in the Warsaw Ghetto: one founded by the socialist Zionists, and the other by their bitter political opponents, the Revisionist Zionists.

This sad fact should be appropriately contrasted with the Sobibor Uprising. Every previous prisoner escape or attempt resulted in the horrifically cruel murder of numerous Jews as a lesson for how futile escape was and the dire consequences upon those who might be contemplating a similar salvation. Therefore, when the escape was planned, it was formulated for everyone to be freed so that no one would be left behind to pay the consequences. In that regard, it was the greatest act of insurrection during the Holocaust.

Divisiveness and fragmentation are antithetical to Torah. In the blessings for the Torah, we refer to God not as the One Who gave the Torah, but in the present tense as One Who gives the Torah. The giving of the Torah is an ongoing process. Accordingly, we must constantly be in a state of preparedness to receive it as did our fathers in the midbar, like one man with one heart.


Rabbi Hanoch Teller, internationally-acclaimed storyteller, is an award-winning author and producer. He is a member of the Mizrachi Speakers Bureau ( www.mizrachi.org/speakers ).

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles