G-d Is Not Happy With Our Infighting. That May Be a Good Thing

Unity. The magical elixir for assuring Divine favor. When we are united, say Chazal, Hashem is with us even when we are sinners.

Where does that leave us? We cannot remember a time of greater disunity than the present. In this month of geulah/redemption, can we salvage any confidence and optimism, when we so sorely lack any pretense of unity?

Yes! Very much so. We’re not the only ones in the equation.

“I have heard the groan of the Children of Israel whom Egypt enslaves.” (Shemos 6:5) Stressing “whom Egypt enslaves” seems completely gratuitous. At this point in the story we are well acquainted with their enslavers, and how they treated their slaves. The Ozhorover Rebbe (Be’er Moshe, Va’eira, pg. 203) explains that quite apart from His compassion for His people, a different factor moved Him, as it were, to melt the shackles that tormented their bodies and broke their spirits. The very fact that His children were under the thumb of a foreign influence was a desecration of His Name. It was unacceptable. He put a stop to it even before the appointed time for their redemption had been reached.

We sometimes think that, through Hashem’s chesed, we’ve recovered from the Holocaust. We’ve raised several generations of loyal Jews, each one larger than the one that preceded it. We’ve been privileged to make our own homeland the largest concentration of Jews anywhere. The number of students in pre-War yeshivos never came near the population of bnei-yeshiva today. The Holocaust is something to memorialize, so that its message won’t be lost. But no doubt, it’s in the past. The phoenix rose from the ashes, and soars high.

When it comes to our long exile before the Holocaust, we don’t give a passing thought to how it influences us today. That was sooo long ago. What does it have to do with us?

We are so wrong on both counts.

Who were the great-grandparents of the multitudes marching in anger, openly demanding that the “State of Tel Aviv” prevail over the “State of Judaism?” People who walked out of Jewish practice because they no longer believed? Certainly, some. But the vast majority fled persecution, poverty, and humiliation, not the pontifications of rabbis. What would the community look like, had we been treated humanely for all those centuries? How many of those we lost would we have recovered, if the vast majority of those who could have been Torah leaders in the post-WWII generations had not been murdered in the Holocaust? How many of our problems today are the consequence of masses of people not rubbing shoulders with gadlus, because there weren’t enough gedolim to go around? What would the presence today of ten R. Aryeh Levins who perished in the Shoah do to disarm the tensions of our day?

We are still suffering from the Holocaust, and from the centuries before.

In other words, the thumb of foreign influence still presses down upon us. Not just from the White House, but more importantly, in having squelched the Jewish spirit that longs for connection with the Creator.

If anything, the surprise is how much of the Jewish neshamah survived to this day.

You don’t have to like Bibi to appreciate how he responded to one of the foreign interviewers last week, who asked him about the visible fissure in Israeli society. If you look at the protesters on both sides, he observed, you’ll see that both were carrying flags. The very same flags. Yes, their positions are vastly different. But they are both committed to the Jewish Nation. We’ll get past this, he concluded.

Is that grounds for optimism? Rav Meir Simcha (Meshech Chochmah, Devarim 30:2) seems to think that it is. “You will take it to your heart,” – literally, v’hasheivosah/you will return. Not you possibly will return. Could happen. Maybe. Rather you will return. Why is this a certainty? Because when people are committed to the Jewish nation, even if they stray in the performance of mitzvos. They will return. That commitment comes from a connection on some level with Elokus.

What do we make of what seem to be the real haters – like Avigdor Liberman? A bit far-fetched to think that any connection remains, don’t you think? Maybe. Maybe not. One thing is certain. HKBH does a better job searching out exculpatory arguments than we do. And you don’t have to be G-d to realize that Liberman is the product of the longest sustained sha’as hashmad in Jewish history. Did he have much of a chance?

Hashem watches, as the nations of the world gather to gloat over our internal war like vultures over carrion. See, how the much vaunted Jewish State is on the verge of collapse! Since His reputation is inextricably linked to our fortunes, how happy can He be?

According to the Ozhorover, not very much. And He treats that as His problem, not chiefly ours.

And there is no better time for Him to address it – to pry away the ghosts of our persecutors for two millennia, whose hands are still tightened around our throats – than now, the month of Nissan, the month of redemption.

May we all merit to see it soon.

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20 Responses

  1. c y says:

    The first Beis HaMikdash was destroyed and we were exiled- despite multitudes of righteous.
    Because of overmuch acceptance of evildoers surely due to the guise of achdus.
    Thus, the final result of the blissful achdus of Achav’s generation
    cf. Kovetz Ma’amarim (R Elchanan Wasserman

  2. RAM says:

    Jewish religious and political authority, which was already in a precarious state before this exile, has fragmented further over the centuries. Even though Jews have a predisposition to reunite, only Mashiach may have enough power and influence to completely achieve the needed unity among and within our various sectors.

    Every scheme by which the external world has tried to organize itself has now been found wanting. We should take the hint and resolve not to copy what has failed.

  3. DK says:

    I am wondering how the fact that Zionism was created as a way to make the Jewish people like all other nations figures into this article.

    Regarding the Ozhorover Rebbe’s vort, how are we not still shackled to the nations of the world? Is not almost every foreign policy move based on the UN and the US? What about Russia, Iran, Syria, Palestine, and other Arab countries?

    Zionism was started by Hertzel, an assimilated Jew in a very liberal Austria. Far from the persecution and poverty that is described in this article.

    Additionally, carrying an Israeli flag to a protest proves nothing regarding their commitment to the Jewish nation. Just the fact that they wish to have the country they live in go the way they want.

    It is worth investing a bit of time into the Sefarim which reveal the (not so) hidden intentions of the founders of Zionism to see very clearly that we are unfortunately still in a very heavy Golus and while the religious part of the country may be united in their service of Hashem, the non-religious part has a large portion that is fighting tooth and nail to remove every vestige of Judaism from the “Jewish” State.

  4. c-l,c says:

    So forever absolve everyone (jew?) for every wrongdoing ??
    “Can we not lay much of the blame for the turmoil we see around us on Hitler’s doorstep?”
    And follow the thread further.Hitler’s personal attitudes should be sourced to..
    And Hitler’s rise was the responsibility of center left frivolousness of the Weimar Republic.Whose fault should be cast on…
    Which therapeutic modality is avante garde now?

    • Bob Miller says:

      The Bobover Rebbe ZY”A’s take on a similar issue (excerpted from https://mishpacha.com/velvet-and-steel/ by Yisroel Besser):

      The vision my zeide spoke about was necessary during the early postwar years. The West Side shtibel drew many survivors, among them a new arrival who was blessed with a beautiful voice. He was honored to serve as the baal tefillah, and when he stood before the amud, he somehow seemed able to rise above the loss and devastation he’d suffered. He came for a few weeks, but one Shabbos, the chazzan wasn’t there. The Ruv sent a bochur to go find him and minutes later, the young man returned with a disturbing report. He’d seen the chazzan sitting on a bench in the nearby park. Smoking. On Shabbos. The Bobover Ruv didn’t hesitate. “It’s not him smoking. It’s the Germans. Siz nisht eim, siz di Deitschen. Go call him and tell him we’re waiting for him for Shochen Ad.” The bochur went out again and came back with the reluctant chazzan, who took his place before the amud. He came every Shabbos for several months, then disappeared, having succeeded in finding a bit of stability… a job, a wife, a second chance. …

      (Much later) The gabbaim allowed an elderly man to approach, an unfamiliar man who said he had an important message for the Ruv.“I am the chazzan,” he leaned in close and introduced himself, “the chazzan from the shtibel on the West Side. I have over a hundred eineklach and they are all shomrei Torah u’mitzvos. You know why? Because it was the Deitschen smoking, because it wasn’t me.”

    • I take my inspiration from the motto of the US Marines. “Shoot ’em all, and let G-d sort ’em out.” Similarly, our job is to come up with a limud zechus for all of them. HKBH can sort out to whom the mitigation truly applies

  5. joel rich says:

    I’d suggest not labeling those who resist the political expression of religion as haters. Take the “chametz law” example. The vast majority of Israelis (according to reporting here) would more than happily not bring chametz into the hospital on pesach as a matter of respect but they resist being forced to do so.

    “the non-religious part has a large portion that is fighting tooth and nail to remove every vestige of Judaism from the “Jewish” State.” Again, they are fighting not to be forced to observe or to pay for someone else’s observance. That’s a very different story IMHO.


    • DK says:

      The mainstream Orthodox public wants neither to make a Halachic state nor to force Religion on any other part of the population. Besides for a small percentage of extremists, the will of most Chareidi, Mizrachi, and Mesorati Jews are to simply be allowed to serve Hashem in peace and without the threat of a lefty sword being held over them at all times. Don’t call us parasites and try to force us to leave our way of life. Don’t call us archaic and old fashioned. Don’t call us wacko or stupid or uneducated or any other such adjectives which only lead to hatred and a wish to “help them for their own good”.
      The Chometz law being actually a great example of this. While until recently, all segments of Israeli society respected Jewish tradition to abstain from eating Chometz for a mere 7 days, the Supreme Court has in the last few years that this is not ok, and a hospital cannot request nicely from the visitors and patients not to bring in Chometz, because it would prevent traditional minded Jews from coming in. Unfortunately, this caused a situation of Pikuach Nefesh and it was therefore decided to pass a law that allowed hospital directors to nicely ask patients and visitors to respect Jewish tradition, again, for 7 days. This is just a law to keep the status quo and let a traditional Jew be able to live without fear in the only Jewish State in the world.

      • Ben Waxman says:

        I am something of a news junkie. I have never heard these horror stories about Pesach and hospitals. I never heard last year about people bringing in bread to hospitals. That was when Nisan Horowitz was the Health Minister and forbad any signs or searches. Similarly, where are the stories about people refraining from coming in to get treatment? (Needless to say, anyone who is in a life threatening situation yet doesn’t go to the hospital because a (frankly) far fetched fear that maybe he’ll eat a few bread crumbs is making a grave mistake).

        This year, oh yeah, there was bread in hospitals. Not much, and all of it was done davka, I have no idea if the people who brought the bread in actually ate it. I seriously doubt that they went and threw pieces around the kitchen.

        For every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

        BTW at many, many hospitals (especially the religious hospitals) all the food during Pesach is served on disposal plates, wrapped in plastic. There is ZERO chance of anyone eating a bit of bread and doesn’t matter if there are pizza parties in the emergency ward.

    • There are many, many for whom your descrption is accurate. But it does not apply, unfortunately, do another subgroup of not unsubstantial numbers who really do want to see a totally secular state.

    • SA says:

      I’m not sure how separate-seating events or separate gender higher education forces anyone to “observe or pay for someone else’s observance.” Both those issues have gone to the Supreme Court, which has placed obstacles to implementing them. To the extent that government funds are ulitized to fund these issues, citizens who want them are entitled to a share of the public budget to pay for them. You don’t see the religious community demonstrating against funding for theaters or museums.
      Neither the “grandson clause” in the Law of Return, or the High Court’s repeated blocking of efforts to deport illegal African migrants, has anything to do with being “forced to observe or to pay for someone else’s observance.”

  6. Steven Brizel says:

    Cholent and Shalom Aleichem are concrete ways of showing A havas Yisrael as are actual interactions with people who don’t share your views

  7. William Gewirtz says:

    DK, I travelled to Israel in the mid 90’s as an AT&T executive; I was treated rather well. While the secular Israelis with whom I met were a tad amazed that a traditional Jew (and my non-jewish companion, also a non-WASP) could represent AT&T, the remnants of some anti-religious biases were evident.

    20 years later, that old trope is largely gone. The secular Israelis with whom i interacted were fully accepting of my religious orientation; with the right type of interactions with a forward-looking halakhic community, much could be accomplished.

    Sadly, your viewpoint is entirely mired in the past. Yet more depressing, the current combination of land-uber-alles and Hareidi parties is very detrimental to any semblance of unity, something that I fervently desire to see emerge as calmer heads gain increased credence. If those two sorts of parties, represent traditional Jews, i have a hard time only blaming Lapid or Liberman for their antagonism.

    • DK says:

      With all due respect but the facts on the ground thoroughly disprove your highly optimistic attitude towards the goings on of the current conflict.
      Bnei Brak was chosen as the place to make a protest not because Gafni or any other politician lives there that has to due with the reform but because it is a Chareidi city. The attitude of a significant percentage of the protesters is that we must stop the parasitic Chareidim from taking over the county. This was and is clearly spoken out.
      There are pride flags as well as Palestinian flags that accompany the protests as well. What does this have to do with a judicial reform?
      Additionally, this very same reform, or similar variants of it, have been pushed by the very same politicians in the past that are now very much against it. Please explain that?
      The answer is simple. This protest has very little to do with Judicial Reform and very much to do with:
      A) Taking down Netanyahu
      B) Pushing progressive ideas
      C) Pushing down the influence of the Chareidi/Religious parties

      As an aside, you contradict yourself. You admit that there is still hatred towards the Chareidi (it pains me how you blame the victim but,) “have a hard time only blaming Lapid or Liberman for their antagonism” but that, “my viewpoint is mired in the past”. Why? because you interacted with a few secular Israelis. Please clarify these inconsistent statements.

      • william l gewirtz says:

        You strike me as (perhaps) lacking an appreciation for nuance. What I wrote does not require clarification, just careful reading.

      • Steven BriZel says:

        Cholent and Shalom Aleichem like all aspects of Ahavas Yisrael have a way of reaching people with very different and even radical ideological and perspectives who have zero awareness of Torah snd Mitzvos

      • Yehoshua Kahan says:

        There are pride flags as well as Palestinian flags that accompany the protests as well.

        Typo alert. You meant “shame rags” and “imperialist Arab flags.”

  8. c-l,c says:

    To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher:Those who preach for broad coalitions and shalom are [back stabbing] quislings

    Re: discussions with Gantz of expanding gov’t

    Backdoor Sly flattery visit earlier this week and last for R Y Yosef
    who is officially mandated to remain apolitical

  9. Weaver says:

    “Hashem watches, as the nations of the world gather to gloat over our internal war like vultures over carrion. See, how the much vaunted Jewish State is on the verge of collapse!”

    That’s a bit overwrought. Are you trying out for the Yated or something?

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