A Message That Should Not Be Missed

Dear Friends,

We have each other and we must treasure each other.

For the nation that dwells alone and has had good reason to feel alone, Monday and Tuesday were days of incredible strength and hope. On both days, we rallied together in the hundreds of thousands and reminded ourselves that we are never alone because Hashem is with us and because we stand together with and for each other.

On the National Mall on Tuesday, it was reassuring to hear governmental and faith leaders speak with perfect moral clarity in support of our people. It made us feel less alone. But it was even more impactful to see the massive gathering of Jews and to stand with hundreds of thousands expressing our shared commitment to the future of Israel, to our ability to live without fear as proud Jews in America, and to the plight of our beloved brothers and sisters held hostage.

Monday was similarly impactful. While we could not see it with our own eyes, we knew that across our entire community people were dedicating extra efforts to tefillah, that shuls and schools everywhere were saying extra tehillim, and that in places like Brooklyn and Lakewood you would have to search to find a minyan that was not reciting the expanded tefillos of Yom Kippur Katan.

Both rallies were powerful. Both rallies demonstrated with intensity and feeling that every corner of our varied community has a powerful love of Israel and Judaism and a deep concern for the soldiers and hostages. They showed how the Jewish people today, after its most fractious year in memory, have pulled together to focus on what is most important to all of us.

Many thousands participated in both Monday’s Yom Kippur Katan and Tuesday’s DC March. Many thousands more participated in one and not the other, as some would not feel comfortable in the intensely Orthodox environment of the selichos minyan while others would not relate to a gathering with so many Jews and so little Torah. No matter. We should observe with deep satisfaction Klal Yisrael’s overlapping circles of profound care and unified focus.

That is what we must focus on, not the controversies surrounding the statements or decisions of specific rabbanim or organizations. We must learn from the bitter experience of the past year that when we focus on fighting with each other, we lower our guard and become dangerously vulnerable to the threats of our real enemies. The discussions of Klal Yisrael need to go back to where they were two weeks ago, exchanging ideas about the latest creative idea to strengthen Klal Yisrael spiritually or materially, to revive some of the chesed, chizuk and spiritual efforts that have lapsed after the initial energetic rush. We need to stop the internal politicking, the analysis and critique of this or that rabbinic or organizational position and speak instead of the wall-to-wall unity of purpose – if not of method – that we are experiencing. Every part of Klal Yisrael is precious and dedicated to the future of the Jewish people, both those who would not attend Yom Kippur Katan and those who would not attend the DC rally. Instead of maligning the communal treasure of Agudath Israel and its leadership, let’s focus on becoming a true agudah achas la’asos retzoncha b’leivav shaleim.

The Orthodox Union sits together with a wide variety of Jewish organizations at the communal tables of the Conference of Presidents and the Jewish Federations, the leading organizers of Tuesday’s rally. We can be at those tables courtesy of something known as the Schindler Doctrine, formulated by Rabbi Alexander Schindler of the Reform movement but critical to our Orthodox sensitivities, committing the Conference to focus entirely on issues that impact the material well-being of Jews and Jewish communities and avoiding religious issues where we cannot expect agreement. That mature understanding allowed us to come together to plan a historic rally that would not and could not be a religious event, but that would prove to be an important political effort to demonstrate support for Israel, the Jewish people, and the hostages across political parties, communities of faith, and individuals of influence and celebrity.

Our partners in leadership across the Jewish community understood the power of this moment. Painful as it was to leave Torah off the program, we all did so consistent with the principle that allowed us to be at that table to begin with, steering clear of areas where there are for now irreconcilable theological differences. But we shared an enthusiasm to make sure that this political event would prove to be an uplifting religious experience for the Jewish community that would make us all feel our connection to each other and to G-d. The moments of tehillim, the singing together of Esa Einei, Acheinu, Vehi She’amda, and the recitation of Shema were some of the precious moments that uplifted and unified one and all.

This was a week of true unity of purpose. We should savor that and build upon it. We have each other and we must treasure each other, all of us who were in shul on Monday or in DC on Tuesday. Let’s build together on what matters.

למען אחי ורעי אדברה נא שלום בך, למען בית ד’ אלקינו אבקשה טוב לך

Have a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer
Executive Vice President

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22 Responses

  1. David says:

    Halevai that EVERYONE should hear and internalize this! (But the realistic side of me is afraid that most won’t – instead, they will blame the other side.)

  2. joel rich says:

    This was a week of true unity of purpose. We should savor that and build upon it. We have each other and we must treasure each other, all of us who were in shul on Monday or in DC on Tuesday. Let’s build together on what matters.
    Beautiful, Perhaps as a concrete next step each subgroup should come up with their own list of what they would be willing to discuss as starting points for areas of compromise so that the family could stay together (as in if you agree to not spray your hair purple, I’ll agree not to enforce a 10PM curfew on non-school nights)
    Hashem Oz Lamo Yiten Hashem Yvarech Et Amo Bashalom

    • Bob Miller says:

      I’d rather that cooperation evolved locally and organically. No need for a grand design. That’s for HaShem. One need is to work out ways for the parties to be in contact in normal living, including joint activities, not just public mega-events.

  3. Steven Brizel says:

    This is an important process that is vitally necessary and can be accomplished without Hashkafic principles being trampled over

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Meanwhile, back at he ranch, there are disturbing indications from Israel’s leaders. Are we prepared yet as supporters to send a message that stiffens Israel’s resistance to US meddling?
    See https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/380588

  5. william gewirtz says:

    The decision to avoid rabbinic representation at the rally was a wise one as it avoided the need to debate which rabbis to include. Unlike previous eis tzarot, like 1967, some rabbis nonetheless chose to boycott the rally. Reflecting his grandfather’s, the Rav ztl, view see:


    • Shades of Gray says:

      Dr. Gewirtz,

      Thanks for the link !

      Rabbi Mayer Twersky appears to be directly responding to the points in the Kol Koreh without mentioning it by name.

      See Minutes 8-9 where he says that לא בחיל ולא בכח כי אם ברוחי אמר ה’ צבקות is irrelevant and inapplicable even as a melitzah.

      He then responds to the argument of “mesorah”, that to the contrary, the mesorah of Klal Yisroel as attested by the Ramban regarding Yaakov’s encounter(in the upcoming parsha) requires attending the current rally.

      RMT quoted the following Rambans in this regard earlier in the shiur(Minutes 3-5):

      וללמדנו עוד שהוא לא בטח בצדקתו והשתדל בהצלה בכל יכלתו ויש בה עוד רמז לדורות כי כל אשר אירע לאבינו עם עשו אחיו יארע לנו תמיד עם בני עשו וראוי לנו לאחז בדרכו של צדיק שנזמין עצמנו לשלשת הדברים


      מפני שהיתה קבלה בידם שזו פרשת גלות כשהיה בא ברומה בחצר מלכי אדום על עסקי הצבור היה מסתכל בפרשה זו ללכת אחרי עצת הזקן החכם כי ממנו יראו הדורות וכן יעשו


      In Minutes 6- 7, R. Twersky says, just as in 1967, it’s wonderful that not yet religious Jews stood shoulder to shoulder with ma’aminim, without endorsing any illegitimate beliefs or choice of speakers.

  6. Anon says:

    While it’s a nice gesture, the Gedolei Yisroel making a decision about encouraging Torah Jewry to attend was correct as it ended up not being something that represents us. Time and time again the Gedolim have the Emes outlook while other groups kneejerk go along with the liberal elements under the theme of achdus. There’s no achdus for listening to priests.

    • Steven Brizel says:

      John Hagee is a huge Ohev Yisrael and we should have Hakaras hatov for anyone who supports Israel. The objections to the march as focusing on secular Zionism seem quite misplaced as the Charedi communities in this war are actively participating in the war effort in ways well beyond the previous calls to learn more and be more makpid about Halacha I think that those who objected to participating should go on a mission see the facts on the ground as to the horrific events of 10/7 the amazing unity in Klal Yisrael and the response of the hateful community before they tell us to say Tehilim learn more and treat life as usual in our communities when in fact the events of 10/7 are causing Hirhurei Teshuvah throughout Klal Yisrael

    • Bob Miller says:

      We have prconceptions, things happen, and—surprise!—we fit the events into our preconceptions. What fails to fit, we select out. This process was precisely how Israel’s guard was down before Oct 7. From the top down, we need a fresh look at things as they are, to try to sort out the implications for our Divine service. Some Gedolim have already answered that call. It may be premature to expect a true consensus of Gedolim.

      • WILLIAM GEWIRTZ says:

        Rabbi Feldman’s recent letter was factually flawed. 1) Rev. Hagee is an ohev Yisroel, without missionary intentions. Factual inaccuracies are not a useful basis for edcts. 2) the event had Zionistic overtones as did the rallies attended by gedolim in 1967, compared to whom Rabbi Feldman is nor a bar hochi. Music by isay Ribo and the Maccabeats is religious zionism at its best; is that also a group with whom we should not join, at least in an eis tzorah. Rav S. Kaminetsky reflected that view relative to this rally.

        I remember when RAL ztl responded to R. Feldman almost a decade ago. The view of Rav Twersky I linked to above will have to suffice.

  7. Shades of Gray says:

    I’m not sure why merely listening to Hatikvah, or the “dominant presence of the President and Ambassador of the State of Israel and the speeches” trumps pikuach nefesh, even according to .the Yam Shel Shlomo that ziyuf HaTorah is yehoreig v’al ya’avor. Furthermore, was this not foreseeable in the beginning ?

    Perhaps the real underlying issue for those who oppose the rally is that they simply don’t see it as that important.

    That’s why the Agudah merely termed it originally “important, midarchei ha’shtadlonus, that there be a large turnout at this event.” R. Feldman also said “[h]istorically, the Moetzes has never supported an event sponsored by secular groups,” implying that this rally was merely another event. RAF likewise writes “[t]here would have to be another way to help the Jews of Israel.” (The Agudah indeed successfully lobbies for Israel’s security needs and on issues of antisemitism).

    Differences in assessing the metziyus of sakanah, and then weighing that against other needs of the community were also behind the differing Covid responses and Metziah B’Peh responses of different communities.

    • Mark says:

      That is exactly right.

      I was, and remain thoroughly unconvinced that attending the rally was a matter of Pikuach Nefashos. Not because I take the threat to Jews everywhere lightly and not because I don’t think it’s important to show support for Israel. I have a number of other reasons which I don’t care to elaborate on. The point is that whereas some are convinced that this is Pikuach Nefesh and therefore all other considerations must be placed aside, many others are not of that opinion.

      I strongly suspect that those on the Moetzes who penned this letter are of that opinion.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “I was, and remain thoroughly unconvinced that attending the rally was a matter of Pikuach Nefashos”

        Of interest is Malcolm Hoenlein’s interview on the current Halacha Headlines program about the rally where he said that vital aid for Israel received a big boost after the turnout of the rally(Minute 37). Other parts of Hoenlein’s interview:

        • A policeman wrote on the back of a child’s sign, “Your Welcome,” and held it up, as he never received so many thanks(Minute 38).

        • There were fake rumors which were circulated by people trying to undermine the event(Minute 44).

        • Malcolm spoke to guys in bekeshes and to roshei yeshiva who brought their students who were completely comfortable having attended(Minute 45).

        • Rav Moshe received a lot of pressure to withdraw a message he sent to be read at a Soviet Jewry rally concerning which RMF told Malcom after that it would have been one of the greatest mistakes in his life had he given in to the pressure. Rav Moshe’s letter was read at the rally before the UN by his son in law (Minutes 47-48).

        • Rav Moshe told the yeshivos to go in 1967, and Reb Elya Svei led the Philadelphia Yeshivah to Washington in 1967(Minute 49).


  8. KMC says:

    So much has been said, no one asked me. I went to the rally. I wasn’t planning on going but when I heard my yeshiva was going, I took a precious sick day from work and drove to Greenbelt with a bunch of working chareidim. I said tehillim and learned mishnayos. I certainly did not enjoy the speeches or the brief interludes of kol isha (especially the constant invocations of the State of Israel as our insurance policy, our magen/matzil).
    It bothered me seeing so many frum jews carrying or wearing israeli flags, but at the same time i was brought to tears severally times seeing chiloni yordim or secular americans, whose connection to klal yisroel had not waned , showing up and being counted. It is the soft bigotry of low expectations, but to see those for whom yiddishkeit is not the focus of their lives, nevertheless show up and shlep out when it mattered was inspiring.
    I hate crowds and concerts and being mishtatef with hollywood celebrities, but I felt privileged to sacrifice 1/1000th of what others are sacrificing to join with my brothers and sisters in a show of unity and hakaras hatov to those politicians who have stood with us.

    • Nachum says:

      There was not a single example of kol isha. All the performers were male.

      I fail to see why the sight of the Israeli flag is so troubling to you, but if it is, I recommend not visiting anywhere in Israel, including the Kotel.

      • KMC says:

        Some of the brief songs between speakers were kol isha (i get that when it is not live, most are more meikil in a theoretical sense; the Lakewood crowd that I am not a part of, would probably have been bothered)
        .I am not bothered by the Israeli flag, though I am not Tzioni in a religious sense. What bothered me was frum people who are not Israeli or classically tzioni embracing those symbols/ wearing the flag as a cape. So perhaps you misunderstood me.
        I do not hate the medina, I am just non-zionist and embrace the state only insofar as it represents the land/people of Israel. Surely you are not surprised that such non-zionism exists?
        I would go again. I am starting to understand why too many in the yeshivish velt did not attend though I am pained that they have come to those conclusions.

  9. Shades of Gray says:

    My approach is to validate the challenges to unity, which are real, while simultaneously focusing on the opportunity of appreciating one another, as does R. Hauer.

    The challenge for leadership is that there are different groups within the Agudah and indeed in the larger Jewish world. As Rashi says regarding Moshe’s prayers for a successor(Bamidbar 27:16): “the personality of each person is revealed to you, and no two are alike. Appoint over them a leader who will tolerate each person according to his individual character.”

    רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, גָּלוּי לְפָנֶיךָ דַּעְתּוֹ שֶׁל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד, וְאֵינָן דּוֹמִין זֶה לָזֶה, מַנֵּה עֲלֵיהֶם מַנְהִיג שֶׁיְּהֵא סוֹבֵל כָּל אֶחָד וְאֶחָד לְפִי דַעְתּוֹ

    The Agudah, by the way, just created a portal to galvanize the sending of 100,000 letters to Congress to stand with Israel:


    The Talmud Yerushalmi(Peah 1:1) compares and contrasts two generations, that of Dovid and of Achav: In Dovid’s generation, they were all righteous, but since there were slanderers among them, they fell in battle, while Achav’s generation, while idolaters, where there were no slanderers, they were victorious. Similarly, in “Seven Principles for Maintaining Jewish Peoplehood,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says: “The Sages said a very striking thing. They said, ‘Great is peace, because even if Israel is worshipping idols and there is peace among them, God will never allow harm to happen to them.’ That is a powerful idea to reflect upon.” See video and transcript(Minute 6:30):


    In “Achdus Begins at Home a Modest Proposal,” published this month in Mishpacha, Barbara Bensoussan writes about familial strife which seems relevant to the communal level as well: “…For the merit of our soldiers, the release of the hostages, and the protection of our civilians, can we overcome our natural inclinations and yetzer hara and do our best to restore shalom in our homes and personal relationships? Then, whatever the outcome of this current war, we will at least have achieved huge spiritual milestones in our personal lives. We will have the comfort and merit of knowing that the sacrifice and suffering of so many of our fellow Jews has at least led to the repair of other broken pieces of the world.”


    The above Mishpacha idea of transcending one’s natural feelings may be in line with the classic Midrash relating to the past week’s parsha regarding Rachel and the First Beis Hamikdash destruction, based on Yirmiyahu 31, where because Rachel, a mere mortal, was prepared not to humiliate her sister and to take a rival into her home, Hashem fills up with mercy: “for you Rachel I shall return Yisrael back to their place.”

  10. mycroft says:

    Of interest is Malcolm Hoenlein’s interview on the current Halacha Headlines program about the rally where he said that vital aid for Israel received a big boost after the turnout of the rally

    It is almost 3 weeks since the rally-no evidence that package is closer to being approved than in October.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “It is almost 3 weeks since the rally-no evidence that package is closer to being approved than in October.”

      I would ask Malcolm Hoenlein to elaborate. Note that Rav Soloveitchik consulted with Kremlinologists when approving Soviet demonstrations. Malcolm certainly qualifies as such an expert in this situation, and was indeed trusted by Rav Moshe, though one can certainly ask him to elaborate. R. Chaim Strauchler, an editor of Tradition, has another question based on the Hoenlein interview:

      “Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in an interview with Dovid Lichtenstein, explained that the rally specifically did not include rabbinic voices, which would have required representatives across the denominations, so as to make non-offensive to the “frum” community (listen here from 41:25). /Given the retraction of support by R. Aharon Feldman of Ner Israel, alongside that of other Orthodox rabbis, was this a wise trade-off? …What can be done to close the gap between Jews in America so that even larger groups might come together in the future? ”


      My own answer would be that the OU and the Orthodox members of the Conference of Presidents should consult their own rabbonim on any future rally regarding such issues of having non-Orthodox rabbis speak and, in general, ensuring a halachic baseline, independently of whether the Charedi world wishes to participate in large numbers.

  11. Shades of Gray says:

    Rabbi Yosef Elefant’s advice at the Agudah Convention to the 70% weighing in about the rally controversy who don’t have a rav not to “throw peanuts from the bleachers”(Minute 1:20:00 of “Asking for a Friend” session), and instead allow the olam haTorah to retain its leadership structure well after the rally, is well taken.

    However, there is an excellent podcast by Rabbi David Bashevkin, “The Opportunity And Difficulty Of Unity: On The Israel March,” which after interviewing Eric Fingerhut, CEO of Federation, and Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet, balances validation of feeling “hashkafically homeless” with focus on the positive of appreciating others, an approach I commented on before.

    R. Bashevkin calls Rabbi Moshe Hauer’s message of unity with the Agudah world a “very beautiful letter” while also referring to a friend who texted him on the bus ride back from the rally that he felt “hashkafically homeless” as having used a “beautiful phrase,” thus validating the challenge to achdus for “the 70%” mentioned above. R. Bashevkin continues with the metaphor of finding a hashkafic home(Minute 1:27:30):

    “…I think there are many solutions to the issue, the enduring issue of the hashkafically homeless, but most importantly is not allowing real but enduring and residual feelings of negativity to overshadow or cloud the very beautiful positivity that is so desperately needed in this very moment.

    So wherever you are on this spectrum, if none of this was an issue, then God bless you. I hope you have a path forward. And if this does resonate and you do feel maybe a little bit homeless in this moment or torn or confused in this moment, know number one, that you are not alone.

    Know number two, that you don’t need to descend into cynicism. There’s a way to hold on to positivity…

    Know number three, that it is possible to even find a home after many years of not finding a community that perfectly aligns with you. Maybe it does exist, maybe it doesn’t. Some live without it, some live with it. Some change communities, some find new neighborhoods, some rent short-term rentals. But whatever it is, there is a way forward for all of us because this moment is so much bigger than any individual.”


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