I was a slave in Egypt
I was dragged from Gaza
No, Gush Katif
Hear O Israel, the Lord is
soul in many bodies
Stabbing our left hand with our right
crimes against ourselves
Turn Toward Jerusalem
Raise your right hand
We were slaves in Egypt
Do not delude yourself
with illusions of separation
Their pain is my pain is your pain is our pain
“Some people believe exactly what I believe, but they like to wear ties. They know their ties neatly around their necks, cutting the brain off from the flow of blood, and this solves the problem. The mind to one side, life to the other. I, you know, don’t like ties. I don’t like dividers. Understand me. My beliefs are nurtured not only from external well springs, but also from my veins, and in my veins flows blood” -Israel Eldad
On a Saturday night at Nefe Nehemiah I walked around the community and spoke to my host. “People used to die for their beliefs” he told me as we gazed upon the Samarian hills. I conceded. Today, it seems, less people are willing to live for their beliefs,let alone die for them. We are left with a mentality that even if your beliefs are right, then it is a crime to act on them. The risk of being called an extremist is too powerful, but it seems many people have forgotten that there is such thing as “extremely good.”
An animal has no beliefs, no ideologies, this is a privilege granted only to human beings. An animal survives. A human being lives for something greater.
Belief isn’t something to be argued about at the dinner table, it’s not a passing thought. It’s something to act on. Something to live by. Something that gives us strength.
Judaism was built on people who today would be called “extremists”. Avraham Avinu was willing to be thrown into the fire to live up to what he knew to be true. While the rest of the world fought against his claims, he fought for truth. He never agreed to the “almost oneness” of G-d, only accepting the one truth, while the Idol-worshipping world continued to call him crazy. Today, there are people who follow in the path of Avraham and live by what is true while the rest of the world continues to call them crazy. It is time that the world wakes up to the other side of extremism, the side that leads to positive change in the world, that compels people to act, the kind that brings good into the world and the kind that we as people who desire to change the world should embrace.
I wake up
To the rock covered hills
To the olive trees and lined caravans
To a sunrise in Samaria
My empty sleep has ceased
Truth has ended slumber’s term
Is there anything more beautiful
Than this land, these people, these rock covered hills
These olive trees and lined caravans
This sunrise in Samaria
Awake, my soul, from your slumber
Sing out Modeh Ani
A new morning has come
I join my spiritual nation
The marriage of our two souls seeks out the fruits of it’s consummation
The people of Israel and the land
Combine under the Chuppah of Heaven
And make a house for their kingdom
In order to control the world around you, you must first be able to control yourself.
When everything seems to be spinning out of control, it is often not what is happening outside that is the root of the problem, but what is happening inside.
This concept not only applies to individuals, but also to groups.
This past week, the front page of my newspaper in Israel presented different variations of the same headline every day.
“Day after attack on soldier, ultra-Orthodox neighborhood unabashed”
“Two charged in attack on ultra-Orthodox soldier”
“Religious soldier attacked in ulta-Orthodox neighborhood”
The Jewish people as a whole have faced threats since the beginning of our existence. Of all these threats, the most disturbing is the threat that comes from within.
If you can not control what is happening inside you, you won’t be able to control what is happening outside of you.
Whatever your views on conscription laws or on any other issue concerning the Jewish people or the Jewish state, divisive action and violence only create inner turmoil. When we can not even make peace within our own community, how do we expect to make peace outside of it?
With Tisha Ba’v coming up this week, Jewish people around the world will be remembering the destruction of the Temple. A reason often cited for the Temple’s destruction is baseless hatred. Today, when I see daily reports of violence between Jews, I am reminded of the importance of strengthening bonds and acting with love toward my fellow Jews. I remind myself that the only way to face the world is by first facing myself and I hope that we as a nation can also remind ourselves that the only way to face the world is by facing each other and connecting as the unified body that we are meant to be.