The enigma that is Israel has always captured the world’s imagination. How a nation, with limited natural assets, could rise, persist, and flourish as it has is truly extraordinary. Indeed, the Jewish people are resourceful. Confronted with water scarcity? They mastered desalination. Infertile soils? They innovated agricultural practices and introduced drip irrigation. Economic challenges? Israel boasts unparalleled intellectual property rates per individual. These achievements, while commendable, are conceivable. But prevailing over gargantuan foes in numerous multi-pronged battles, despite the overwhelming odds? That suggests divine intervention.
Yet, how did we arrive at this juncture? How did a rogue group of monsters, who didn’t hide their intentions, manage to launch a barrage of missiles, breach our defenses, and traverse our lands wreaking havoc? How did they elude a nation renowned for its military prowess and exceptional intelligence agencies, especially when there were warning signals from Egypt of an impending assault? Many questions linger, and while some might be accountable, there’s no logical explanation for such an oversight in this era of heightened awareness.
To grasp this, we might need to reflect on the past.
The fall of the Second Temple is often ascribed to “Sinat Chinam” or needless animosity. The tale of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza illustrates this, where one Jew humiliated another in the presence of revered sages. This grave act ultimately set the stage for the Romans’ betrayal, resulting in the devastation of Jerusalem, our cherished temple’s annihilation, and our exile.
We solemnly remember this tragic event on the 9th of Av.
The magnitude of this event is such that we not only observe a 25-hour fast akin to Yom Kippur, but for the nine preceding days, we modify our eating habits, abstain from festivities, and adopt an attitude of sorrow. The aim is to deepen our spiritual introspection, recognizing the weight of our misdeeds and their ramifications.
Yet, this year was markedly different. During these Nine Days, Israel was starkly divided over a legislative proposal. Tensions reached a peak when the Knesset, amidst this period, chose to vote. Witnessing a peaceful demonstration being disrupted with force was deeply unsettling. The gravity of the situation was further emphasized by the timing.
Further, on Yom Kippur, religious observances in Tel Aviv were disrupted by individuals with opposing views, creating an unprecedented schism amongst us.
Israel’s military successes seem blessed with divine favor, particularly the events of ’67 and ’73. These victories, despite overwhelming odds and minimal casualties, are awe-inspiring. Yet, recently, a small group of rebels was able to infiltrate and wreak devastation. How could this transpire?
Togetherness is our strength, while division is our Achilles’ heel. History, as depicted in the Tanakh, reveals this pattern — in unity, our might is incomprehensible, but in discord, our vulnerability is magnified.
Our strength lies in unity, and our weakness in division. The Tanakh portrays this recurrent theme — united, we stand invincible; divided, we falter.
Global Jewish solidarity has emerged magnificently. Once again, we stand resolute.
In these trying times, our collective spirit shines brightest. Spontaneously, divisions melted away, strategic councils were established, and the military saw an overwhelming response. The global Jewish community rallied spectacularly. Once more, we stand fortified.
The message is clear.
It’s not to insinuate that Israel’s political landscape triggered these events. Pointing fingers is futile. Yet, when we prioritize personal or political ambitions over basic human decency, we risk the divine protection we’ve been blessed with.
Our newfound solidarity appears rock-solid.
The loss of 1,300 lives is heart-wrenching. My prayers are with them in the heavenly abode. Their sacrifice for the cause of Jewish unity must not be in vain. We must uphold their memory with love and unity for all.