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ב"ה

They Are All My Brothers And Sisters

Thursday, 20 May, 2021 - 9:32 pm

All eyes are on Israel. Many are pained about the loss of life and destruction of property within Israel. Our hearts go out to the people whose lives have been turned upside down by this endless chain of conflict. Many are pained by the need for Israel to defend herself thereby resulting in loss of life and destruction of property in Gaza. Especially painful is the loss to civilian life as a result of the militants hiding among civilians and even children.

From my view, one of the tragic fallouts of this conflict is the gaping fissure that this creates between Jews. There are those who are ardent supporters of Israel. There are those who are vocal critics of Israel. There are those who are ambivalent about or apathetic to the issue altogether. When the violence flares up and heated words are hurled, the gap widens and we become entirely disparate from each other. The dialogue inevitably devolves into uncivil exchanges or worse, leaving people on all sides of the issue disenfranchised and cut off from each other.

The greatest victory we can give our enemies (whoever they may be) is a splintered Jewish people. When we are fractured, we are vulnerable to the worst attacks. We must learn to disagree, even about fundamental principles, without breaking away from each other.

Most of you know that I am steadfastly supportive of Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens against attack. I cringe at what I perceive as moral equivocation when analyzing this situation. That being said, when someone professes an alternative view, one that I disagree with vehemently, that does not prevent me from being willing to embrace them with open arms. These are my brothers. We are all children of Hashem. We share a Jewish neshama. If we can have a civil discussion about the issue, wonderful. If not, then I would rather find other things that bring us together to share with them.

Brothers and sisters, let us not allow our disagreements on this issue, as central as it is to us, to turn against each other, thereby opening ourselves up to the most insidious attacks against our very sense of Jewish self. Our enemies (and they are numerous and from all sides) delight in seeing us fractured. Let us remember that we are children of One Father, we have so much to share and give each other.

May Hashem bless our world with the ultimate awareness of His truth, which will in turn eliminate all conflict. May Hashem bless us with true peace with the coming of Mashiach.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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