The Temple was destroyed and the Jewish nation exiled more than 2,000 years ago because of sinat chinam, baseless hatred. The Sages of the Talmud teach that redemption depends on our restored unity.
We were plunged into exile because of the hatred of one Jew toward another, and salvation can only come through repairing ourselves in that realm. In other words, we can engage in peace negotiations, defeat our enemies in wars, and even gather en masse in streets and tents to demonstrate against all the social injustices imaginable, but we will not succeed in creating the healthy society we all crave until, at a minimum, we learn to treat each other with respect.
I can think of no greater disrespect than an unwillingness to even explore working together with other groups.
The Zionist dream will not fully materialize until we all relate to one another as brothers and sisters regardless of our countries of origin or levels of observance. We must love each other like family despite our cultural nuances; care for each other’s needs as best friends despite our ideological differences; and recognize the role each of us plays as pieces of the puzzle that create a complete nation.
We can argue with each other passionately about the critical issues of our times. However, we must never close the door on working together for the greater good. Those who do advocate closing doors undermine our country.
May the successes we have achieved in Beit Shemesh serve as a glowing example. And may we learn to unite on the issues we agree on while moving forward to achieve redemption as a nation.
Rabbi Dov Lipman is a community activist, author, and educator in Beit Shemesh. He also serves as director of the English Speakers Division of the Am Shalem political movement. He can be contacted through his website, www.rabbilipman.com.