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Parshat Bamidbar

Dear STOCS Friend:


I would like to share the last part of a Dvar Torah I read by Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt from the Arutz Sheva website:


“Up until October 6th of last year Israeli citizens were engaged in an ever more acrimonious tribal conflict, the tribe of Jerusalem against the tribe of greater Tel Aviv, endangering the future of the state of Israel. The 7th of October reminded everyone that we do not have the luxury to engage in this kind of conflict and that outside there are forces, which like the Babylonians and the Romans in their time, are just waiting to annihilate us.

Today, our tribes continue to argue and bicker over a wide variety of issues - whether or not to draft haredi men to the military; how to fight the war in Gaza; whether and how to make deals with Hamas terrorists for release of the hostages; judicial reform, and much more.

Israel has faced many existential moments in the past, and the current crisis is perhaps its most existential ever. With war in the south, the north, and even abroad, as Iran and antisemitism threatens Israelis and Jews around the world, the nation needs all hands-on deck – from the protesters in Tel Aviv to the high-tech workers to the hareidim in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak to the residents of Judea and Samaria to the café aficionados of Tel Aviv – regardless of their ideas, ideologies, attitudes, and feelings for each other.

There will be plenty of time for tribalism later on. But if we don’t get through the current crisis, there may not be a “later on,” God forbid. The Third Commonwealth, as the State of Israel is often called, is sometimes compared to the Second Temple period – another time when tribalism ruled. Then, it was tribalism that led to the “baseless hatred” that actually tore the nation apart, with Pharisees squaring off against Sadducees, those seeking accommodation with the Romans against rebel groups, and Jews who eschewed others who were not as ritually pure as themselves all standing firm – and inflexible – in their stances, refusing to compromise. It was that tribal-based hatred that caused the exile, the Rabbis tell us. We can’t afford to let tribalism do that to us again.

I once heard a great definition of the concept of peoplehood from the eminent American Jewish historian Jonathan Sarna. The meaning of peoplehood, he said, is the understanding that I do not want to have anything to do with person X because he is different, culturally inferior, etc. But since he is my relative, I have to deal with him and talk to him.

It’s a tenet that Jews throughout the ages could or should have heeded - but heeding it has never been more important than it is now.”

His words are very powerful.  We need unity now more than ever!

Have a good Shabbas!

Rabbi Evan Shore


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