Photo Credit: Oren Nahshon / Flash 90
Israelis wave flags and signs saying "Together We'll Win" during a demonstration supporting an Israeli ground operation in Gaza.

This is no way means uniformity, as we all have various points of view as to the validity of giving land for peace, speaking to the Hamas and more.  After all, there are 12 different tribes that make up the Jewish people, and even at the banks of the Sea of Reeds, according to the rabbinic tradition, G-d made 12 different paths to walk through, corresponding these diverse tribes (Mechilta Drabi Yishmael, Beshalach, 4!)

But while we have never, and still do not think alike, as our faces and minds look and think differently (Berachot 58a) we must state once and for all that we are all equal part of the Jewish family.  If Jewish law forbids killing another Jew in order for me not to be killed by an enemy, stating that “your blood is not more red than your fellow Jews blood” (Bava-Metzia 62a, Pesachim 25b, Rambam Yesodei HaTorah 5/7) we must restate that we all have a right to live and breathe freely upon Israeli soil, without subdivisions.

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Therefore, we should start acting like one family, seeing a fellow-Jew, even if he dresses differently than me, as part of that family.  Saying a “Hello” to fellow Jews on the street should not be limited to those that dress like me [Berachot 17b.]  Hosting people in my home should not be limited to those that think like me [Pe’a 1/1.] And concern for the welfare of the Jewish people dare not be just for a specific group.

Our daily prayer service, especially the blessings of petition, are in the plural. We pray for ourselves, within the needs of the entire Jewish people as a whole. Thus, when mentioning the name of someone ill that needs mercy from heave n, we add the words “Betoch shar cholei yisrael” (“within the needs of all those ill within Israel) (Mishna Berura 116/3).”

Subdivisions are a practical tool to organize information, not to divide between members of the same family.

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Rabbi Yehoshua Grunstein, formerly the Rabbi of the Beth Israel Synagogue in Halifax, Canada, and formerly Director of Training and Placement at the Straus-Amiel and Beren-Amiel Institute of Ohr Torah Stone, R' Grunstein serves as an administrator of the Rabbinical Court of Gush Etzion, and is part of the founding faculty of the morning English speaking Kollel of Efrat. An experienced rabbi, writer and popular lecturer in Israel and around the world, he is the author of Daven Your Age (2013), Beyond Routine (2018), Murmurings of a Minyaner (2021), co-editor of Machzor Vechai Bahem (OTS 2020 and 2021), and has over 1,000 recorded classes online in both Hebrew and English.

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