On June 27, The Times editor, Bari Weiss, wrote that she was glad the Dyke March banned Jewish stars. I, too, am glad, but not over the banning. I’m glad that Weiss acknowledged that there is widespread anti-Semitism, including in the US, and I’m especially glad that she pointed out that when Jews become anti-Israel, “this kind of contortion never ends well.” Hopefully, the awareness will initiate correction.
There is a good reason why division among us ends badly. All of our patriarchs strove to unite the world. Abraham strove to unite the entire Babylonian Empire where he was born. After his expulsion from Babylon, he built a solid group that formed the nucleus of the Jewish people, whose mission was to become “a light unto nations,” to spread the unity that Abraham had aspired to share indiscriminately.
When Israel escaped from Egypt, they established their nationhood by pledging to unite “as one man with one heart.” But that unity was also not for their own sake, but for the world’s. The great Ramchal wrote in his Commentary on the Torah (Bamidbar [Numbers]) that Moses “wished to complete the correction of the world at that time. …However, he did not succeed because of the corruptions that occurred along the way.”
To guarantee that the nascent nation would not forget its duty to project the light of unity to the world, immediately following its inception, it was tasked with being “a light unto nations.”
And yet, for all the efforts of our ancestors to overcome hatred, approximately two millennia ago we succumbed to it and inflicted a disaster on our nation. Our sages do not attribute our exile and the ruin of the Temple to external enemies, but to our unfounded hatred for each other. And with our loss of unity, we lost our ability to be “a light unto nations,” a role model of unity.
Yet, the world remembers that we owe it its correction, its unity. Just last weekend, another anti-Semitic act reminded us of this as vandals covered a Holocaust memorial site with a sheet carrying the inscription, “Heebs [Hebrews] will not divide us.”
Notorious anti-Semite Henry Ford recognized the role of the Jews toward society in his book The International Jew—The World’s Foremost Problem: “It is not forgotten that certain promises were made to them regarding their position in the world, and it is held that these prophecies will be fulfilled. The future of the Jew is intimately bound up with the future of this planet.”
In search of a remedy for man’s self-centered nature, humanity has adopted and abandoned every ideology and every form of governance. Yet, all have failed because until we balance egoism with unity, the ego will always prevail. Consequently, every regime and ideology are bound to become fascism or Nazism, or both.
Seeking unity, people hold events such as last month’s Dyke March to celebrate inclusion. However, they exclude the Jews because the division among Jews is the reason why the world is disunited to begin with. Subconsciously, the world is telling us: “Leave us and unite among yourselves! This is what we need from you!”
In 1929, Dr. Kurt Fleischer, leader of the Liberals in the Berlin Jewish Community Assembly, stated, “Anti-Semitism is the scourge that God has sent us in order to lead us together and weld us together.” How tragic it is that the Jews back then did not follow through on this observation.
Today, I think we must unite regardless of our mutual dislike. We should already see that no one will embrace us unless we first embrace each other and project “a light [of unity] unto nations.”
In his book Orot (Lights), the Rav Kook wrote, “The construction of the world … requires the construction of the Israeli nation. The construction of the nation and the revealing of its spirit [of unity] are one and the same, and it is one with the construction of the world, which is crumbling in anticipation for a force full of unity and sublimity.”
If we care about our future, we mustn’t keep the world waiting. This tactic never ends well.