Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is Jewish Unity Possible? A Sociological-Psycological-Philosophical-Kabbalistic-Study

לע"נ מרת אסתר בת ר' שמואל
לרפואת הרב אברהם יוסף בן ר' משה חיים
לזכות הרב ישראל יעקב בן ר' אשר זעליג

We all know the importance of achdus in Klal Yisrael. I often wonder if it will ever happen. We are VERY far apart. Let me wax sociological for a few moments. Not judging - just describing. 

Take a Jew from Efrat and place him in Kiryat Vizhnitz in Bnei Brak for a year. How would he feel? Take a Vizhnitzer from Bnei Brak and put him in Efrat for a year. How would HE feel? 

They would both be miserable in all likelihood. Why? 

Because in each case the person would be inhabiting a planet with completely different creatures than the type he is used to on his planet. 

Language is not just an external framework for conveying thoughts. The very type and nature of language one uses is in itself a form of communication and communication reveals a great deal about a person's inner world. Language reflects culture and shapes culture.

People who have larger vocabularies are generally deeper people because their command of language allows them to think in many different categories and on many different levels. People with rich vocabularies can view an issue with its many subtleties. A person who only knows the words "mad or sad" will have a very superficial relationship with his emotional world. The more one learns about emotion and is able to verbalize the extremely complex inner world we all have, the deeper he will be.

When a person uses words such as "democracy" "modernity" or "romance" he will live very differently and experience the world very differently than someone who has never heard of these words. 

Let us extremely broadly classify the two religious groups in Israel as "Charedi" and "Dati Leumi" [or Religious Zionist" - the American parallel is "Modern Orthodox"]. They speak TWO DIFFERENT LANGUAGES [not to mention that they wear completely different uniforms]. 

Firstly - literally. In many of the great Charedi Yeshivos the shiurim are given in Yiddish! Yiddish?? Yes, Yiddish. The reason is - the Charedim [and full disclosure - I personally live in that world] wants to hold on to life in Europe. When they daven or learn they intentionally don't use the modern Israeli pronunciation of words [except for our holy Sefardic brothers and sisters]. 

Even in daily conversation the terminology is peppered with concepts taken from the Beis Medrash. I will ask my wife "What's the nafka minah if we send Leebee to this gan or that gan?" Or "there is a big chilluk between the supermarket in our neighborhood and the one in Har Nof" and countless other words. "The bus driver gave me a very shver explanation to explain why he was late" [note - it is rarely the drivers fault if he is late. There is something called "traffic"] When someone does his friend a favor the benefactor will say "Shkoyach" instead of "thank you" etc. etc. 

They dress like Polish nobleman in the 1800's and many wear furry hats that are far more fitting for freezing Russian and Polish winters than for our tropical Middle Eastern climate.

The Dati Leumi world dresses in a much more modern style, speaks a modern Hebrew and davens and learns using the modern pronunciation. Even the divrei Torah which are based on the exact same texts are spoken using different frames of reference and terms. 

When a Charedi boy becomes Bar Mitzva he will say a pilpul on a sugya while the Dati Leumi boy will say a nice idea from the Parsha. [At least from what I have seen]. The world of the Charedi [male] is the gemara far more than it is so for the non-Charedi.

 The Dati Leumi Jew wants to integrate into Israeli society and sees it as an ideal. The Charedi only wants to limit his contact with the outside world as much as he can. If he needs to make a living then he will go to work but make sure to come back to his Charedi cocoon at the end of the day. Every Charedi boy who gets married starts off in Kollel and the parents usually pay for it. In the Dati Leumi world only a small percentage go to kollel and the young marrieds are generally expected to earn their own living. 

The Dati Leumi Jew sees it as a holy obligation to serve in Tzahal [even though he recognizes the possible spiritual hazards] while for a Charedi it is not even on the radar. The same with university.
Bar Ilan and Hebrew U. are filled with the yarmulkes and skirts of the Dati Leumi while you will find almost no Charedim there [what is rapidly changing is that Charedim have their own colleges. But that is not because they value a secular education but because they value being able to eat]. From a young age in the Dati Leumi world a strong emphasis is placed on a secular education while in the Charedi system they learn the bare minimum of secular subjects. Does a secular education [or lack thereof] influence the way a person thinks and acts? You bet. 

Language - Charedi boys NEVER go to school. They go to "cheyder". Just like in Poland. Dati Leumi kids go to "Beit Sefer". Charedi kids often call their father "tatty" and their mother "mommy". Have you ever heard a kid with a kippah sruga call his father "tatty"?  

When you go to a Dati Leumi event it will almost always be mixed seating. The only time Charedim have mixed sitting is on the bus when they have no choice [except for the private buses that they hire and in their homes].     

There are many other differences. That is why members of each group don't feel comfortable when they are at a public gathering of people from the other group. 

They even dance differently at weddings and many of the songs are different.

A Charedi will NEVER have a television [unless he hides it ...] while in many Dati Leumi homes they have a large screen right in the living room [many don't - but many do]. 

So how can we have achdus when we are all so incredibly different. Then of course there are the countless groups and sub-groups with the two worlds. I could write an essay about how we are all enriched by our differences when we appreciate how the other groups have so many special things about them. But most people don't buy that - EVEN THOUGH IT IS TRUE.

For Charedim, the Dati Leumi world are not bad people - just misguided "Mizrochnikim" [they still call them "Mizrachi" even though from long ago they have called themselves "Dati Leumi"]. For the Dati Leumi world the Charedim are a relic of a world long passed who haven't adapted to our changing world. And worse - draft dodgers, which is a cardinal sin. For the Charedi - the sin is serving in the army not avoiding it.

Someone in my neighborhood made a simcha in the hall of the shul in Har Nof called "Dati-Leumi". On the sign announcing the simcha it said "in the hall next to the shul on Chai Taib 22". "Dati-Leumi" is a bad word. Rav Elchonon Wasserman in his Kovetz Maamarim called it "Avoda Zara Bi-shituf". Hashem and nationalism. Two G-d's Heaven forfend.

The two sides are a world apart. 

That is my analysis. Take it - or leave it. 

I am not taking sides or judging who is better. I personally appreciate that each group has a lot to learn from the other [and a lot to improve upon] but that is in a great part because I grew up being associated with one and chose to live with the other. But the average person who was born and raised and remained in one milieu it seems almost impossible to bridge the gap. 

Let us say that a bachur from Ponovitch would marry a holy frum girl who grew up in a Mercaz HaRav family. She keeps all the halachos of tzniyus, skirt to the floor, mentions Hashem every 6 seconds or less, davens three times a day etc. SUPER FRUM. They still wouldn't last. THEY DON'T EVEN SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE. That is why there is NEVER "intermarriage" between the two groups even though we are all halachically observant Jews. 

Much of the same applies to the situation in Chutz La-aretz although there it is somewhat less polarized. 

So how can we have achdus??

I would like to propose two ways:

1] Our essential humanity. All human beings have a lot in common. We all want to love and to be loved. We all have fears. We all enjoy a kind word and are hurt by insulting words. Many qualities unite all human beings. So if we want unity with other Jews who are so different from us then we can think about how we all share humanity. That is what the mishna says in Avos-  חביב אדם שנברא בצלם. We are all beloved because we were all created in Hashem's image. 

2] There is a point in all of our neshamos that is one. All Jews share a common neshama and we are just small parts that inhabit different bodies. 

For this we need Tanya [32]:

וְהִנֵּה עַל יְדֵי קִיּוּם הַדְּבָרִים הַנִּזְכָּרִים לְעֵיל, לִהְיוֹת גּוּפוֹ נִבְזֶה וְנִמְאָס בְּעֵינָיו, רַק שִׂמְחָתוֹ תִּהְיֶה שִׂמְחַת הַנֶּפֶשׁ לְבַדָּהּ, הֲרֵי זוֹ דֶּרֶךְ יְשָׁרָה וְקַלָּה לָבֹא לִידֵי קִיּוּם מִצְוַת "וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ לְכָל נֶפֶשׁ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל, לְמִגָּדוֹל וְעַד קָטָן. כִּי מֵאַחַר שֶׁגּוּפוֹ נִמְאָס וּמְתֹעָב אֶצְלוֹ, וְהַנֶּפֶשׁ וְהָרוּחַ – מִי יוֹדֵעַ גְּדֻלָּתָן וּמַעֲלָתָן בְּשָׁרְשָׁן וּמְקוֹרָן בֵּאלֹקִים חַיִּים. בְּשַׁגָּם שֶׁכֻּלָּן מַתְאִימוֹת וְאָב אֶחָד לְכֻלָּנָה, וְלָכֵן נִקְרְאוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל אַחִים מַמָּשׁ, מִצַּד שֹׁרֶשׁ נַפְשָׁם בַּה' אֶחָד, רַק שֶׁהגּוּפִים מְחֻלָּקִים. וְלָכֵן הָעוֹשִׂים גּוּפָם עִקָּר וְנַפְשָׁם טְפֵלָה, אִי אֶפְשָׁר לִהְיוֹת אַהֲבָה וְאַחֲוָה אֲמִתִּית בֵּינֵיהֶם, אֶלָּא הַתְּלוּיָה בַּדָּבָר לְבַדָּהּ.
וְזֶהוּ שֶׁאָמַר הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן עַל קִיּוּם מִצְוָה זוֹ, "זֶהוּ כָּל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ, וְאִידָךְ פֵּרוּשָׁא הוּא" כו'. כִּי יְסוֹד וְשֹׁרֶשׁ כָּל הַתּוֹרָה הוּא לְהַגְבִּיהַּ וּלְהַעֲלוֹת הַנֶּפֶשׁ עַל הַגּוּף מַעְלָה מַעְלָה עַד עִקְּרָא וְשָׁרְשָׁא דְּכָל עָלְמִין, וְגַם לְהַמְשִׁיךְ אוֹר אֵין סוֹף בָּרוּךְ הוּא בִּכְנֶסֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמֶהֱוֵי אֶחָד בְּאֶחָד דַּוְקָא, וְלֹא כְּשֶׁיֵּשׁ פֵּרוּד חַס וְשָׁלוֹם בַּנְּשָׁמוֹת, דְּקֻדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא לָא שַׁרְיָא בַּאֲתַר פָּגִים. וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: "בָּרְכֵנוּ אָבִינוּ כֻּלָּנוּ כְּאֶחָד בְּאוֹר פָּנֶיךָ", וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּמָקוֹם אַחֵר בַּאֲרִיכוּת.
וּמַה שֶּׁכָּתוּב בַּגְּמָרָא שֶׁמִּי שֶׁרוֹאֶה בַּחֲבֵרוֹ שֶׁחָטָא, מִצְוָה לִשְׂנֹאתוֹ וְגַם לוֹמַר לְרַבּוֹ שֶׁיִּשְׂנָאֵהוּ, הַיְנוּ בַּחֲבֵרוֹ בְּתוֹרָה וּמִצְוֹת וּכְבָר קִיֵּם בּוֹ מִצְוַת "הוֹכֵחַ תּוֹכִיחַ אֶת עֲמִיתֶךָ", עַם שֶׁאִתְּךָ בַּתּוֹרָה וּבַמִּצְוֹת, וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן לֹא שָׁב מֵחֶטְאוֹ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתַב בְּסֵפֶר חֲרֵדִים. אֲבָל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ חֲבֵרוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מְקֹרָב אֶצְלוֹ, הִנֵּה עַל זֶה אָמַר הִלֵּל הַזָּקֵן: הֱוֵי מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרֹן, אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וכו', אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה. לוֹמַר שֶׁאַף הָרְחוֹקִים מִתּוֹרַת ה' וַעֲבוֹדָתוֹ, וְלָכֵן נִקְרָאִים בְּשֵׁם "בְּרִיּוֹת" בְּעָלְמָא, צָרִיךְ לְמָשְׁכָן בְּחַבְלֵי עֲבוֹתוֹת אַהֲבָה, וְכֻלֵּי הַאי וְאוּלַי יוּכַל לְקָרְבָן לְתוֹרָה וַעֲבוֹדַת ה'; וְהֵן לֹא, לֹא הִפְסִיד שְׂכַר מִצְוַת אַהֲבַת רֵעִים.

וְגַם הַמְּקֹרָבִים אֵלָיו וְהוֹכִיחָם וְלֹא שָׁבוּ מֵעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם, שֶׁמִּצְוָה לִשְׂנֹאתָם, מִצְוָה לְאָהֳבָם גַּם כֵּן, וּשְׁתֵּיהֶן הֵן אֱמֶת: שִׂנְאָה מִצַּד הָרַע שֶׁבָּהֶם, וְאַהֲבָה מִצַּד בְּחִינַת הַטּוֹב הַגָּנוּז שֶׁבָּהֶם, שֶׁהוּא נִיצוֹץ אֱלֹקוּת שֶׁבְּתוֹכָם הַמְּחַיֶּה נַפְשָׁם הָאֱלֹקִית. וְגַם לְעוֹרֵר רַחֲמִים בְּלִבּוֹ עָלֶיהָ, כִּי הִיא בִּבְחִינַת גָּלוּת בְּתוֹךְ הָרַע מִסִּטְרָא אַחֲרָא הַגּוֹבֵר עָלֶיהָ בָּרְשָׁעִים. וְהָרַחֲמָנוּת מְבַטֶּלֶת הַשִּׂנְאָה וּמְעוֹרֶרֶת הָאַהֲבָה, כַּנּוֹדָע מִמַּה שֶּׁכָּתוּב: "לְיַעֲקֹב אֲשֶׁר פָּדָה אֶת אַבְרָהָם". [וְלֹא אָמַר דָּוִד הַמֶּלֶךְ עָלָיו הַשָּׁלוֹם "תַּכְלִית שִׂנְאָה שְׂנֵאתִים" וגו' אֶלָּא עַל הַמִּינִים וְהָאֶפִּיקוֹרְסִים שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם חֵלֶק בֵּאלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, כִּדְאִיתָא בַּגְּמָרָא רֵישׁ פרק ט"ז דְּשַׁבָּת].

Unconditional Love

The following 5 ideas are introduced / explained in this chapter:

Unconditional Love

Achieving True Love For Others

Intrinsic Love

Competing Loves

The Essence of the Torah
Unconditional Love

How the previous system of seeing ones body as bad and soul as good is the most direct method to achieving love for a fellow Jew.

In the past few chapters the Alter Rebbe elaborated on the dual assessment of ones lowliness due to their body – i.e. past sins or perhaps even present ones and yet to remain happy due to their joy of their soul – knowing that their soul is one and the same unit as G-d goodness and kindness. 
The Alter Rebbe teaches that this is the easiest method to achieving a complete love for every Jew. He mentions from the greatest to the lowest.

Achieving True Love For Others

How this is achieved

One loves something that one is attracted to. One is attracted to something that one loves. When one respects another they are attracted to that person. Now if this respect is due to that person’s soul – and similarly how that persons looks doesn’t make a difference to them – it is only the greatness of the soul / goodness and kindness that matters; and even if the goodness and kindness is not revealed yet the fact is that it is there in the individuals G-dly soul. And thus if one bears in mind that every Jew has a G-dly soul, and conversly one is not too caught up by status looks etc. then a person can love each and every Jew [as the statement – that they say in the Yeshivah in Heaven “one must love a completely wicked Jew as one would love a completely righteous Jew”.

This brings to mind the story of the Rebbe that an elderly lady was standing in line for dollars – when the Rebbe would give out a dollar to everyone and a blessing and when she came to the Rebbe after standing in line for a couple of hours – now the Rebbe would stand for up to five hours in a row and he was already over ninety so she said to the Rebbe “Rebbe I am an elderly lady how do you stand for so long” and the Rebbe smiled lovingly to her and replied “when one counts diamonds one does not get tired.” Anyone who knows the Rebbe knows that he was not lying. What else would compel the Rebbe of the world to stand ever Sunday as thousands of Jews would file past and he with his prophetic ability and great power would bless and love each of them unconditionally. ]

Intrinsic Love

Another reason to love every Jew for we are brothers and sisters

Before we mention that there is goodness and kindness, G-d, in every Jews soul even if they act badly, however now we have another point. How is it that we love ourselves if we do something wrong? This is because the love we have for ourselves is stronger than the bad we did. Our love for ourselves is so great that it conceals any negative, for we are all born with a self-love. [Obviously this self love has the above mentioned fault however as will be mentioned it can also be used for the following good:] The Tzemach Tzedek the third Chabad Rebbe relates that one should envision all souls as coming from a quarry and all souls are chips off one block in the quarry thus we are all brothers and sisters. Why do brothers and sisters have a closer bond over and beyond how you would love a stranger? The reason is that they share a common ancestry so the more related I am to someone else the more I love them for I am loving the me in them. When we realize that: as all souls come from G-d in heaven, thus you and I are literary alike, “we are chips off the old dad” and thus we are brothers and sisters the self-love gets exended. As I started taking the advice of Tanya more seriously in my life I would say to myself “every Jew is my brother or sister,” in this way I could actually feel how the love I have for my own brothers and sisters was extended to all my Jewish brothers and sisters.

Competing Loves

Why this only works when one holds the body in contempt and the soul in the highest regard.
If one loves their body [and the valueless values its holds dear] then they cannot achieve a true love between people for it would be similar to the story of the wealthy man who lost his money and somehow lost his friends at the same time. When he regained his wealth and somehow regained his friends at the same time, then when they would lovingly come over to say hello he pulled out his wallet and said, “say hello to your only real friend.” In other words people may think they are in love however if the love is really for themselves – as one elderly wise doctor once told me, “when a young man says to a young woman I love you what he is really saying is I need you.” In other words: is this person selfless, is he wiling to lay his life for this person, the answer is no. Rather she possesses an attribute that fulfills a need in him so he is really saying “I need you.” However when a person holds the soul in the highest regard a person can truly unite with anyone else. The best example of this is the love found between Chassidim to Jews around the world. Lubavitcher Chassidim leave their safety and comfort zones and literally travel to Siberia and the entire world to share love friendship and Judaism – what motivates them? An intrinsic love for a fellow Jew which makes them want to unite with them and help them realize their identity and bring meaning to their lives.
Every one marvels at this self sacrifice; obviously they learnt it from the Rebbe whose love for a 
fellow Jew had no bounds. In fact there are many simple Jews whom contain this unconditional love for a fellow Jew. This love cannot coexist if there is a corresponding selfishness that inhibits it. Only someone who elevates their love beyond their selfishness [and selfishness is really self love] can overcome the selfishness of the body and thus the Alter Rebbe now emphasizes the point that if someone’s selfishness is greater than their selflessness it is impossible for there to be a true love between them and others.

Of course the classic example of this is from Pirkei Avos whereby our sages describe two types of love, conditional and unconditional. Conditional love was the love between Amnon and Tamar, that he “loved” her so much he raped her and then threw her to the dogs – as soon as the condition was met he ceased loving her. And the love between Yonasan and David that Yonasan litterly gave up the throne of Israel to save his best friend from his own father’s wrath which was only so he the crown prince could have the thrown. Obviously his love was greater than his desire for the kingdom, and monarchy of the Jewish people.

The Essence of the Torah

How Ahavas Yisroel is all of Judaism

Now we can understand how Hillel replied to a gentile that the Mitzvah of loving a fellow Jew is to keep the entire Torah and the rest is the explanation of this principle [i.e. all the other Mitzvos explain this theme which is the logic behind them.]

Because the foundation and intent of the entire Torah is to elevate the soul back into their source – as when we do a Mitzvah we unite with G-d as well as drawing down G-d to the source of all souls in heaven – Malchus of Atzilus, Knesses Yisroel, – and G-d will not reside if there is friction, for this would be like a king residing in a broken down palace.

It is for this reason Chassidim – and the Rebbe encouraged us to – say, that we hereby accept upon ourselves to love a fellow Jew before prayers, for G-d will not listen to our prayers if there is friction between us.

In other words the purpose of Torah and Mitzvos is to unite Jew and G-d, father and son, now a father does not want to come to a home where children are arguing and bickering. This is similar to what it states – bless us our father for we are all one – in order to receive G-d’s blessing we need to unite for G-d will not bless i.e. through his descent if we are not unified.

When the Rebbe wrote to people that had arguments – and institutions that there was friction – he would often quote this from the Tanya: that in order to draw down G-d’s blessings – that may have already been given – i.e. the money is in the bank – but to withdraw it there must be unity. As our sages state there is no conduit to blessing as much as harmony and peace. [from]

Our geulah is dependent on our unity: