In memory of those who were killed in a terrorist attack in the Pittsburgh Synagogue on Shabbat Vayera
Parsha and its fulfillment - Parashat Toldot - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald- 5769
At the beginning of our Parasha we see the birth of Yaacov and Esav to Yitzchak and Rivka. At the end, after taking the blessings from his brother, Yitzchak sends Yaakov to Padan Aram to set up his house there, the house of Israel: "“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him: 'Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a congregation of peoples; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land of thy sojournings, which God gave unto Abraham. And Isaac sent away Jacob; and he went to Paddan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother”. (Genesis 28: 1-5).
From the family of Yaacov came the people of Israel. And from his sons came the twelve tribes. But even in Yaacov’s family, even before the creation of the Jewish people, the question of unity was raised in the house. How to form unity despite the lack of uniformity. Not only as a social value but as a spiritual value.
Hence generations. The nation of Israel must strive for "brotherly love" in routine and in distress: " Have we not all one father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, profaning the covenant of our fathers? (Malachi 2), “And who is like Thy people, like Israel, a nation one in the earth” (2 Samuel 7,23), and we have one Torah and one law. And it is therefore fitting for us to have one heart and one will. Needless to say, free hatred became the people of Israel’s worst misfortune. The hatred of freedom caused more damage to the people of Israel than the hardest and strongest of its enemies could have caused. We commemorate these events during the fast days of the year, which are meant for remembrance and self-examination.
The need to sharpen the importance of fraternity and free love is mainly important in controversial matters, and at a time when the differences of opinion between segments of the Jewish people are prominent. When everyone agrees, there is no need for it. It is precisely when the winds are heated by the fire of controversy that we must emphasize that there is a common denominator between us. That we must be proportionate and not try to intensify the dispute and sharpen the differences beyond what they really are. And that dealing with the difficulty of creating a dialogue and preventing a rupture is preferable to the price that may be paid if the dispute grows into a rift. As in the past.
The terrible murder that took place on Shabbat Vayera in the Synagogue of the Conservative congregation in Pittsburgh by a hateful anti-Semite, brought up again the antisemitism in the world that does not discriminate between Jews and Jews.
In the face of this event, we must all embrace, from a distance, our Jewish brothers and members of the community, to be with them in their difficult hour and try to strengthen them as best we can. And remember that we are "the sons of one man in the land of Canaan" (Genesis 42:13). This is not the time to mention and sharpen our differences and differences in perceptions between Orthodoxy and the Conservative and Reform movements. The disagreements do indeed stand, they are harsh, polar and unambiguous, and should not be taken lightly. No one is going to blur them. This 'time of trouble' should be ‘time of fraternity'. At this time, we should put the disputes aside. This is a 'time to embrace' and to emphasize that we are brothers, and the plight of our brothers is our problem.
It is precisely at this time that we must mention the clear Halacha that a Jew who was killed by non-Jews, just because he was a Jew, when the intention of killing him was for no other reason than because he was Jewish, is considered to be one who died in the sanctification of G-d- Kidush Hahsem. Perfect Tzaddikim.
Unfortunately, at this difficult hour, there were those who tried to inflame the dispute and argue that Orthodoxy believes that Conservative and Reform Jews are not Jews, G-d forbid. And to polarize the relationship between the people living in Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
Tragically, the murderer reminded us, like all the anti-Semites of all generations, that we are "brothers" with a common destiny. And we all get the same hatred indiscriminately.
This is the time for Solidarity, not for controversy. We must not let it slip away.