Reflecting on the 3 Weeks, the Kotel DIspute and What We Might Do About this Month’s Permutation of Sinat Chinam
If we are awake to our heritage and history, we must at least consider that the recent confluence of events involving our holiest site – The Temple Mount — and the tensions between different groupings of Jews in Israel and between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry are hardly “coincidental.” Often, near Tisha B’Av, the Creator presents us with a spur to review our priorities and learn deeply our texts, which provide profound wisdom for dealing with these very crises.
All manner of articles have appeared bemoaning Jewish denominational discord and the Israel/Diaspora divide. Serious people have proposed addressing these issues by constructing new identities based on Israeli-ness, or forcing the Israeli government to be more receptive to American Jewish issues by boycotting government officials, stopping donations to Israeli hospitals or bringing down El Al Airlines. Meetings have begun to take place at the highest levels, but the proceedings, as released to the public so far, seem to be missing essential elements as participants try to reinvent the wheel.
We have been here, before – many times. Too many times. Our entire Tanach and much of the Talmud constitutes a discourse on these very issues, in different permutations. We -– the stiff-necked progeny of spiritual giants buried in Hevron, Shechem and on the road to Bet Lechem –- seem always to be overtaken by events that we should have seen coming, much like the Jews of ancient Egypt and, later, Babylonia, Greece and Rome.
If we want to continue on as a Family, a People, and not merely an ethnicity, we need to be exquisitely attuned to the messages of this moment in history and be re-attuned to the lessons our fundamental texts already contain. As Jews, we must re-understand our relationship to each other, the significance of Eretz Yisrael, and the moral and spiritual mission vouchsafed to us as a prerequisite for settling the land promised us, durably and sustainably. We must do nothing less than reclaim the fullness of our Identity and spiritual legacy.
I believe it crucial to take current events as an urgent cue for profound individual reflection and prayer, and to begin a sustained study together — across politics and religious practice or belief — of particular mitzvot that are too rarely studied in depth, like the prohibition of hating fellow Jews and the obligation to love them, the prohibitions against taking revenge or bearing grudges, relating to those we do not love so much and so on. This study should be supplemented with overtly spiritual texts such as Tomer Devorah and others. I believe such study should take place across the Jewish spectrum on an international level, with the enlistment of world-class mentors and thought leaders on the order of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. I would welcome suggestions on how to begin gaining traction for the implementation of this and seek partners to launch this initiative from our Wexner Network.
Elihu Stone, a WHP Alum (Boston 2) practiced law in Boston, specializing in transactional law and litigation before entering the financial services industry, maintaining a specialized focus on the strategic implementation of charitable planning. Elihu served in significant capacities as a lay leader including the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Massachusetts Synagogue Council, Presidency of Young Israel of Sharon, MA, Executive Board of the Jewish Community Day School, the New England Board of The American Friends of The Weizmann Institute of Science, the Board of the Gateways (a merger of Etgar L’Noar and JSEC – the Jewish Special Education Collaborative.) In 2017 he made aliyah, passed the Israeli Bar, worked in legal knowledge process outsourcing with national North American American publishing firm and currently lives in Efrat. He hosts a minyan in his basement and meets as a representative of Efrat in meetings with pro-Palestinian tour groups. Elihu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.