By Joshua Goldstein Rosh Hashana unity
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur have many embedded messages. Like diamonds embedded with prisms, the high holidays glimmer with meaning depending on where you are in your life’s journey and what the community at large is experiencing. With the threat of more Coronavirus and the death and disruption of life that occurs, focusing on community is more important this year.
On Rosh Hashanah, forgiveness between one another has to be asked for directly. Sadly, at times this suggestion falls flat in its effectiveness. The different religious streams are still not “talking” and continue to clash. Whether religious practice or social action, our institutions have failed miserably to create the unity we need. We cannot be passive sheeple. We can create change by starting as individuals. As individuals, we can adjust our narrow bandwidth and think in terms of community.
Forgiveness is a healing force. Letting go of your bitterness and disappointment is healing to you and allows you to move on. Forgiveness allows us to move on and allows for growth. It takes a lot of energy to hold onto and perpetuate grudges. Instead, we can choose differently. We can tolerate other Jews just based on their being Jewish and something to cherish. So you don’t do this, and I don’t do that. Each one does according to their path. The key is the community.
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The Jewish people are like the embers in a fireplace. As long as they sit close together, there is heat, and they continue to glow. If you take one out, that ember stops glowing, and the whole loses some of its heat. The dearth of meaningful discussion between Jews is proof of this. Too often, I hear the hatred of off-hand remarks about “those” types of Jews. At times it seems more acceptable to bash other Jews than it is to praise them.
Rosh Hashanah is a holiday suited for mending fences, and broken dreams, and forgiveness. On this holiday, we proclaim Hashem as King. If he intended to make all of us the same, he could have. We should be creating and strengthening bonds instead of separating ourselves in our own Temples, Synagogues, and shuls—celebrating in isolation. We are missing the picture if we think that one’s version of Judaism gives you the right to tear down and hate another.
Guilt and regret are emotions that do not sustain the strength to permanently change. These emotions are blunting to our choices, but it is never the catalyst that births lasting change. It starts with recognizing that we are human, and as such, we are limited in what we know. We don’t have access to the master plan, the “cosmic” scorecard, nor even the rudimentary understandings of how things work in heaven. Coming from a place of humility, we can develop this sense of belonging and acceptance of other Jews, who are not part of your “tribe.”
It says in Mishlei (Proverbs 6:16), “there are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him:
Haughty, eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
Sadly, this abomination has become so acceptable, it is almost laughable to read it in the Tanach when realizing the divisions that exist between Jews today. Did someone cross that one out in a recent version?
But individually, we can truly make a difference. This Rosh Hashanah, we should create connections by reaching out to a Jew you never knew or never wanted to.
Here are three suggestions:
- Create a bond with Jews of other streams or even non-practicing Jews.
- Be nice! If you cannot say anything good about another stream of the faith, it is best not to speak. An undercurrent of hatred fosters more faith,
- Focus on commonality and comradeship—keeping the embers glowing.
Our enemies don’t care what synagogue or stream of Judaism you believe in. History shows they will stop to ask what you believe in if they come to kill you. This sobering thought should also be enough to see how dysfunctional we have become in our divisiveness. Our enemies are more organized than us in their singular goal of hatred and extermination.
This year, as part of the purifying and cleansing process of Rosh Hashanah, can you forgo arrogance towards other Jewish streams? By fostering forgiveness down here on earth, we can parallel the forgiveness we ask Hashem to perform for us from the heavens above.
Joshua Goldstein, Chairman of Herut North America. Herut is an international movement for Zionist pride and education and is dedicated to the ideals of pre-World War II Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Herut’s website is https://herutna.org
Rosh Hashana unity
Rosh Hashana unity