My own cynicism and disillusionment is scaring me.  I am reading article after article in Jewish media, correctly praising the unity shown by Jews of all stripes who volunteered countless hours to search and pray for Leiby Kletzsky Hy”d.  I think back to the other times Jews have shown such unity, and I can only come up with tragedy upon tragedy as catalysts.

I am cynical because despite our promises to ourselves that this time it will be different, within hours, days or weeks, we fall back into the same pattern of sinas chinam and machlokes (baseless hatred and arguments).  “This is nothing new,”  my husband says.  “We’ve been doing this for 2,000 years.”  His comment fills me with despair.

While it’s comforting to know that HaShem has more faith in the Jewish People than I do, that He is willing to put up with this behavior for 2,000+ years, I wonder why we just don’t get it.  Why can’t we unite under happy and everyday circumstances?  Why does it take tragedy for us to come together, to stop judging self-righteously?  If this “potch” doesn’t serve its purpose, how much more severe will our dose of reality have to be before a long-lasting change will take place?

When my daughter lived in a place far from a mainstream Orthodox Jewish community early in her marriage, she made an interesting comment.  I had asked if she was lonely, because there was no one with whom she really had anything in common, due to age or background.

“It’s a funny thing, but I find myself being friends with people of all ages, even though they really aren’t my ‘type.’  I guess beggars can’t be choosers!  When you’re living far from your usual comfort zone, you tend to reach out to people more, and they to you.  I don’t know if these people will be life-long friends, but it’s given me the opportunity to get to know people I ordinarily would not have met.  People have been really nice!”

A confession:  I know in my heart that running off to rural Maine, to a place mostly devoid of my fellow landsmen, is a cowardly act.  It’s easy to be a positive, pleasant person when you don’t have to interact with others.  There cannot be shul politics without a shul!  There is no shidduch crisis, no tuition woes, no racial tension nor overt anti-Semitism.  No one cares if I’m an FFB or BT (frum from birth/ba’al teshuva).  Frankly, it’s liberating.  It’s tranquil.  I also realize it’s not real life; that Jewish continuity depends on community.

It seems clear that major tragic events in Jewish history, despite the resulting, temporary unity, will not bring Redemption.  I’m willing to bet that if we treat each other properly and with respect on a daily basis in mundane, everyday circumstances, Mashiach will come.  Only when we come together as a People in good times as well as bad will we merit celebrating the ultimate Redemption.

Why is this so terribly difficult?

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by admirer on July 17, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Very well stated. Now if only everyone would read your blog.


  2. couldn’t agree with you more; and anyway this “unity” is primarily among the religious Jewish world — others may have looked in, tisked tisked; and then it’s back to whatever it was and whereever they were in the first place. No, we are not not indeed united; different stripes, different “truths” — I don’t think it’s cynicism, it’s reality. mf. california


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