Jerusalem Under Siege

Written by Rabbi Yanky Touber Posted in Holidays

As I sit writing these words a stone's throw from downtown Jerusalem, I can hear the shooting at the apartment houses of Gilo, two neighborhoods over, from the abutting Arab village of Beit Jalla. In and around the city and throughout the country, the enemy hurls rocks, bullets and bombs at Jewish soldiers and schoolbuses. While the six Dovidovitch children contemplate the loss of their mother and 8-year-old Tehillah Cohen contemplates the loss of her two legs, diplomats scurry about pushing "position papers" and TV commentators and newspaper columnists revile the Jews for refusing to lay down their weapons and board the cattle cars like good little boys and girls. The killers are driven by hate, the pundits and politicians by vanity and naiveté; together, they would rip the heart of Israel from its body.

But even more frightening is the way history is repeating itself. The Talmud describes how, instead of uniting against the common enemy, Jewish factions battled each other in besieged Jerusalem. "Because of baseless hatred between Jews," concludes the Talmud, "was Jerusalem destroyed."

Why, asks the Lubavitcher Rebbe, does the Talmud insist that the hate was "baseless"? Were there not reasons, both ideological and pragmatic, for the divisions amongst the Jews? But no reason, explains the Rebbe, is reason enough for hate. The commonality of our fate runs so much deeper than any possible cause for animosity. All hate, then, is baseless hatred.

So if "baseless hatred" was the cause of the destruction, continues the Rebbe, its remedy is "baseless love"--our rediscovery of the intrinsic unity which overrides all reasons for discord and strife.

Pray for Jerusalem, encourage and aid its defenders, and show love to a fellow Jew--no matter how he or she differs from you. For if there is one redeeming virtue in being under siege, it is the opportunity to realize that we're all in this together.

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