web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Them and Us

.

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel

“Monopoly was created for a summer Shabbat and Fast Days…”!

So I heard, time and again, in my early years.

Distractions are perfect for these two days, and thus, some suggest, the less you think about what you’re missing [i.e.- be it the T.V/Computer on Shabbat, or food/water on a Fast-Day,] the better off you will be.

Years later, I know rather too well that while “Monopoly”  has a place in the Jewish home, I am not sure about it’s appropriateness to either Shabbat or a Fast-Day. Leaving the former for another time, let’s talk about the latter.

Seems to me that being “distracted” on the fast day… is exactly the opposite of what the intention of our sages was. In the words of the Rambam [Laws of Fast-Days, Chapter 5/1;]

“There are days that all of Israel fast on, because of the tragedies that occurred on them, in order to awaken the hearts, and open the paths towards Teshuva/Repentance, and they shall be a reminder to our wrong/evil ways, and those of our forbears, that were like our own today, which has/had resulted to them and to us in these tragedies, and by remembering them, we will return to proper ways… .and they are… the 17th of Tamuz…

In a word, the Rambam is saying that a typical Fast day is a means to an end-it’s a tool for us to repent for actions and behaviors that caused both tragic events of the past and those of the present.

Following suit, seems that we should be distracted on this day, and the natural feeling of hunger and thirst should lead us to deep introspection as to the way we act, speak and more.

So, as I sit in front of my screen on this commemoration of the 17th of Tamuz, allow me to pick on but 1 behavior pattern that seems to be a throw-back to then, and to my dismay, is continuing now.

It’s no secret that we are fasting today to recall, amongst others, the breaching of the walls surrounding Jerusalem, probably [only] during the period of the 2nd Temple [Tractate Ta'a'nit 28b, which suggests that during the 1st Temple, this happened on the 9th day of Tamuz.] It is also well known that the 2nd Temple, according to the prevalent view of our sages, was destroyed due to “Sin’at Chi’nam”/Senseless hatred [Tractate Yo'ma 9b.]

Putting two and two together, seems like today is a day that we are still fasting, and not [yet] feasting [as, hopefully, we will-see Tractate Rosh-Hashana 18b] due to such senseless hatred still continuing in the year 2012.

“But I don’t hate anyone?”

True, we probably seldom used the term “I hate…” for another Jew. But there is something that is still be done today, and is a by-product of the above- the use of the word “them” about fellow Jews.

You all know the scene – you are watching the news, and see some sort of an occurrence. As Jews seldom stays quite and refrain from voicing their opinion, I am sure one of the following statements were uttered recently about the latest events in Israel;

  • They should make a deal and go to the army”
  • Violence won’t get them anywhere.”
  • They are really two-faced, just demonstrating in the summer and not in the winter…”

The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the point.

There’s only one problem with it; “They” are really… us!

We are not speaking about some group in the hinterlands of the USA doing this or that, or what the locals are constructing in the Far-East! We are speaking about… our fellow Jews!

  • You may not formally have a membership card into the [so-called] “Charedei” world, but when seeing the recent controversy concerning the “Tal Law”, how many of us said, “I feel bad… for us” versus “them?”
  • You may not live in Tel Aviv, and thus are not part, or are not personally effected, by the “Social demonstrations” of recent. But how many of us looked at the news reports on it, and commented that this is not a good thing… for us, rather for “them?”

Sin’at Chi’nam”/Senseless hatred is not just hating someone. In my opinion, it would include creating a feeling of two nations within the same people/it would include looking at current events in Israel, being produced by fellow Jews, and referring to it as “what’s happening to them.”

Assimilation, the Tal-law, the social demonstrations, the morality or lack-thereof of Israeli politicians, kids that have went “off the derech” and [sadly] more, are not “their” issues but rather-ours. These are not just news-items that are interesting/provocative [as they must be to make the "news"] but rather are our issues. The above occurrences are happening to the Jewish people and therefore, when referring to the above, it would both suitable, and perhaps even obligatory, to start changing the term “them” to “us.”

If we want these days to transform from fasts to feasts, we need to start fixing the reality in which we live. None of us can solve the world’s problems, but 1 small step we can make to eradicate the “Sin’at Chi’nam”/Senseless hatred that seems to still be a reality [see Rambam above;" and they shall be a reminder to our wrong/evil ways, and those of our forbears, that were like our own today, which has/had resulted to them and to us in these tragedies..."] – let’s start talking like 1 nation.

So today, as you feel hungry and thirsty, and perhaps upset that a beautiful Sunday can’t be used for too much, do feel distracted! Leave the monopoly on the shelf, and while reading the paper or hearing the news about your fellow Jews, please don’t allow the word “them” to be uttered.

About the Author: Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein is Director of training and placement at The Straus-Amiel Institute at Ohr Torah Stone.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Them and Us”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A general view of the Bat Ain community at Gush Etzion.
US Pushes PA Agenda and Tells Israel to Cancel New Gush Etzion Town
Latest Judaism Stories
shofar+kotel

If you had an important court date scheduled – one that would determine your financial future, or even your very life – you’d be sure to prepare for weeks beforehand. On Rosh Hashanah, each individual is judged on the merit of his deeds. Whether he will live out the year or not. Whether he will […]

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

Of paramount importance is that both the king and his people realize that while he is the leader, he is still a subject of God.

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

When a person feels he can control the destiny of other people, he runs the risk of feeling self-important, significant, and mighty.

Needless to say, it was done and they formed a great relationship as his friend and mentor. He started attending services and volunteered his time all along putting on tefillin.

He took me to a room filled with computer equipment and said, “You pray here for as long as you want.” I couldn’t believe my ears.

On Friday afternoon, Dov called Kalman. “Please make sure to return the keys for the car on Motzaei Shabbos,” he said. “We have a bris on Sunday morning and we’re all going. We also need the roof luggage bag.”

On Chol HaMoed some work is prohibited and some is permitted. According to some opinions, the work prohibition is biblical; according to others, it’s rabbinical.

If there is a mitzvas minuy dayanim in the Diaspora, then why is there a difference between Israel and the Diaspora in the number of judges and their distribution?

Judaism is a religion of love but also a religion of justice, for without justice, love corrupts.

The time immediately preceding Mashiach’s arrival is likened to the birth pangs of a woman in labor.

More Articles from Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein
what me worry

Using the term “Halacha” for policies which are not in fact Halacha, delegitimizes those who differ and causes ill-will towards Jewish law.

Israelis wave flags and signs saying "Together We'll Win" during a demonstration supporting an Israeli ground operation in Gaza.

This past week should teach us one thing; in the eyes of the enemy, Israel is one Israel.

As the worse in now behind us, and yet with restorations efforts still ahead of us, I believe that the terms utilized so widely this week to describe a terrible predicament should force us to reconsider their use when, thankfully, tragedy doesn’t strike. Though my heart and soul are with those hurt by the storm, I am disturbed that so many of these very adjectives are commonly used to describe common occurrences, a far cry from the critical situation that so many Americans on the East Coast are facing.

A leisurely Shabbat stroll around town recently turned a calming experience into a rather upsetting one, as graffiti sprayed on quite a few buildings in my neighborhood defaced the beautiful Jerusalem stone with the words; “Dabru Ivrit/Speak Hebrew”!

“It is a Sabbath of Sabbaths for you, and you shall afflict yourselves, It is an eternal statute” (Vayikra 16:31). This is how our Torah sums up the upcoming experience of Yom Kippur: a Sabbath of all Sabbaths. Rather than use the more colloquially known “Yom HaKippurim,” The Day of Atonement, the Torah reading of Yom Kippur morning uses the above term to summarize the twenty-five hour experience we are about to step into.

You’ve seen the scene before – the congregants are silent, the tension can be cut with a butter knife, all eyes are peeled on the bimah in the center, two blessings are uttered, and the silence is pierced….by the most primitive horn one could find!

As the year is coming to an end, with endless days filled with doing the very same commandments, we besiege G-d on each remaining day, asking for one vital ingredient for the one yet to come: May we never get used to our routine.

I’d like to submit that anything Frequent in our life tends be Forgotten! Something we see every day does not rank high on our list of concerns, and therefore, we just naturally forget about it.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/holidays/them-and-us/2012/07/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: