There are many people who comment on my blog that add tremendous value to it. Their comments are thoughtful and very often enlightening. One of those whose comments reflect that is a woman who calls herself “kweansmom.” In a recent comment she pointed out something that many of us have overlooked.
I have commented about the achdus among differing factions of Orthodoxy that often are at each other’s throats. Whenever we are in times of trouble, we unite. There is no more Charedim versus Modern Orthodox or Religious Zionist. I haven’t heard a word lately about the army being a social engineering experiment. Instead there is universal prayer for the welfare of the Israeli people who face an existential threat by an enemy that has sworn to wipe Israel off the map. And has embarked on a terror campaign of daily nonstop indiscriminate rocket fire in an attempt to do so.
But one thing that has not been focused upon so much is how the secular public in Israel is reacting. The answer to that question is illustrated by the photo of Gal Gadot, an Israeli model and actress, lighting Shabbos candles. It was posted by kweansmom in one of her comments. She added the following:
At the Shabbat table today, our neighbor commented on the achdus brought about by the operation, and that for a change, many haredim are openly grateful to the IDF. I commented that the unity works both ways, as many traditional but not necessarily Orthodox Israelis are expressing more openly religious feelings as well.
Just like it is sad that only tragedy brings Orthodox factions together, it is sad that it takes the same tragedy to get secular people to become observant of halacha.
It isn’t only Gal Gadot who has increased their religious observance, there is the story of an entire battalion of secular soldiers who have taken upon themselves the mitzvah of wearing tefllin daily. There is the story of a Israel commanding officer talking to his troops about to enter Gaza about saying a prayer before embarking on that mission. One may recall the entire Knesset saying tehilim for the missing (at the time) 3 teens before they were discovered murdered.
Even MK Yair Lapid who proudly identifies as a secular Jew has taken upon himself to always be dan l’kaf zechus for a fellow Jew is a Torah based concept. While he may not be taking on any mitzvos bein adam l’Makom, his pledge to observe a bein adam l’chavero halacha was probably motivated in the desire to seek God’s grace for His people.
We ought to look very hard and carefully at what is going on here. The people of Israel are a religious people. Even secular Jews who are not observant believe in God and that God has an active presence in this world. I think this has been shown to be the case in many polls taken on the subject. It is now more evident than ever that secular Israelis can be reached.
Once this conflict ends and we go back to a normal existence, we ought not to forget images like the one of Gal Gadot… or any of the other images I mentioned. What has to stop is business as usual. There ought to be some serious reflection on how we religious Jews interact with each other and how we interact with the secular public. We ought to take a lesson from Yair Lapid and learn to be Dan L’Kaf Zechus to all of our brethren – religious or secular – instead of thinking the worst of them. Let us look at the positive in each individual regardless of his hashkafos or how religious he is.