April 14, 2024
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Trends to Watch: Ahavat Yisrael Families

Magnifying the good, minimizing everything else. Preparing for Asara B’Tevet.

Think about the most recent simcha you went to. While for some, the ba’al/ba’alei simcha and their extended families are similar—all Modern Orthodox or all Yeshivish or all (fill in the blank). But far more often I have been noticing a more diverse picture. Sometimes it’s Modern Orthodox with some Yeshivish mixed in; Yeshivish with Da’ati Leumi and some Lubavitch. But sometimes it’s much, much more varied than that. I find it particularly exciting when I see someone wearing a shtreimel celebrating with their less-affiliated relative at a wedding. This is something to celebrate.

A simcha is a time where people come together to mark their relationship with you. Their presence in and of itself telegraphs the message that it means enough to them to stop their work week or Shabbos or Sunday to share in a special time in your life, that they count themselves as one of “your people.” When that priority transcends, it creates a bond that supersedes other potential barriers such as hashkafa, mehalech, chumrot and levush.

While there are possibly other interactions experienced by this family that may be complicated, the fact that they’re coming together to celebrate a simcha speaks volumes. This solidarity is worth magnifying and inflating in import and outlook. The other stuff, the smaller stuff, is worth minimizing or overlooking.

This principle can be generalized to include our “larger family”, aka klal Yisrael, as well. Ultimately, that’s what we are—a big family. Embracing the idea that every Jew can be counted as one of “your people,” as someone who will stand with you whatever the occasion, has the potential to overshadow any difference or disparity.

This idea is in concert with this week’s parsha, Vayigash, which is about the unification of a family—the original family of klal Yisrael. Yaakov and all his sons stand together and celebrate their commonality and kinship, moving past the discord and divisiveness of earlier days.

It is particularly poignant that this parsha precedes Asara B’Tevet. As explained by the Chatam Sofer, Asara B’Tevet is a time of judgment for bringing the geula in the coming year. How appropriate that we are reminded in the parsha to embrace our varied and sometimes complex larger Jewish family, to magnify what’s good—positive interactions, chesed, solidarity in challenging times, and celebrating simchahs—and minimize anything else that is less than stellar.

May we all embrace our immediate family and our even larger and more diverse klal Yisrael family, and may we, im yirtzeh Hashem, be zoche to amazing things in the coming year.

By Grunny Zlotnick


Grunny Zlotnick is a resident of Teaneck and active in a number of local organizations.

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