As I noted last week, the Torah teaches us we are a nation destined to dwell alone. From the very genesis of nationhood we were meant to stand alone, and indeed we have.
Throughout our long history we have come through exiles, persecutions, and genocides by clinging to Hashem and His Torah. In our tragedies, in our mourning, in our heartfelt prayers and our genuine tears, there was also hope. Hope of our salvation.
That hope for salvation is still what drives us a people. The best way for us to appeal to our Heavenly Father is to stand united as one family. We need only stop for a moment and ask ourselves: What does a parent desire? The wish of all good parents is that their children remain united as one mishpachah and reach out to one another with love and kindness.
Our father Jacob on his deathbed pleaded with his sons, “Heosfu, hikovtzu” – be one, cling together. In unity you will find your strength.
Tragically it’s one lesson we seem to have forgotten. Acrimony, conflict, unwarranted hatred, and jealousies have served to build walls between us.
The walls divide families, siblings, parents, in-laws, and children.
My saintly father, HaRav HaGaon HaTzaddik Avraham HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, began every Kol Nidrei night with the same words: “There are people here who don’t speak to their fathers and mothers, their in-laws, their siblings. You must make shalom for your tefillahs to ascend. Shalom is the key with which we can unlock the Heavenly Gates and evoke G-d’s Mercy, His help, His salvation.”
As he said that, tears would roll down his face and drench his beautiful white beard.
I often think of my father’s words. As the years pass I’ve come to realize how true and prophetic his words were. The divisions in our families, in our communities, in our synagogues, and in our yeshivas have splintered us, leaving deep scars on our souls and on our people.
When our three precious sons disappeared last month in Israel, snatched by murderous beasts, we wept and prayed as one big family. We were united. Religious or secular, we were one. But why is it that only a tragedy can unite us? Why can’t this unity spill over into our everyday life? Why can’t it illuminate our homes and our communities?
It would be so beneficial to us if we were to become one and free ourselves of jealousies, pettiness, and anger. But somehow, even when there is peace for a brief interval, we destroy it with our mean-spirited attitudes and by allowing negative attitudes to consume us.
As I write this, our people are in real danger. Israel is under constant fire. Rockets bombard Jewish villages and cities. Once and for all let us unite and stand as one, as we did at Mt. Sinai. In the end, love can neutralize all ill feelings and make us a nation united around Torah and mitzvahs, invincible in our oneness.
Unity is a chain that cannot be broken, not even by our most sinister enemies.
In an appeal for prayers on behalf of our beleaguered people in Israel, our Hineni organization sent out a request for everyone to daven and recite Tehillim. Even as we made that plea we reminded people to bear in mind that we are one family united by our faith, our Torah, our love of our holy city Jerusalem. If our brethren are hurting, we all hurt. If their blood is being shed, we all bleed. If they are in jeopardy, we are all jeopardized.
We are Am Yisrael, one family, indivisible in ahavas Yisrael, in our love for one another. To us every Yiddishe neshamah is precious, and even vast oceans cannot separate us. Just consider the statement of Prime Minister Netanyahu: “We built an iron dome to protect our civilians; our enemies use their civilians to protect their ammunition.”