Are We Really So Different?
That which the heart doesn’t allow for, time allows for. This Hebrew saying – which flows much more nicely in Hebrew – captures the feelings many of us have almost two weeks out from the Pittsburgh massacres.
The deep rooted pain, anger, disbelief, fear subsides and we are able to go about our days without being consumed by those horrific events.
For the families and Pittsburgh community, it will take more time, but they too, in time, will feel the pain subside. This ability for the acute emotional pain, is a gift that Hashem has given us. Imagine, if one, who has experienced serious physical injury, remained completely conscious of the moment the injury occurred and the pain that came with it. It would have to paralyze a person as it did in that first moment.
The not remembering is what allows us to move on.
However, if we don’t internalize the lessons, if we don’t make changes, it was all for naught.
One thought that keeps recurring for me is the many non Jews who have offered condolences to me and many other Jews of all stripes and backgrounds. I don’t remember, as much, the Jewish community feeling a sense of need to offer condolences with members of the local churches after the various church shootings that have taken place.
Why is it that a random gentile sees a secular or observant Jew and senses that the Jewish People are all connected to the point of offering me condolences for a community that is not mine, for people that I didn’t know?
The answer is simple. The Jewish People are indeed one. Yes, we may not all observe the same, we may not observe at all, we may believe that we carry a truth when others are misguided, but these are all external dimensions of who we are.
If you saw someone in physical pain, and surely if it was your brother or sister, would you not reach out to help them alleviate that pain?
How much more so one in spiritual pain, whether they are conscious of it or not, we should reach out to help them alleviate that pain.
We should act with love towards others and encourage them to see the world in a way we believe to be of spiritual and material benefit to them.
However, even when they don’t go that journey with us, they remain our complete brothers and sisters.
That is because what binds is our Neshama, our soul, and the Neshama transcends observance. Our connection to another Jew is inherent.
If the gentile senses this to the point of connecting random Jews, how much more so should we express this connection through acceptance and love for our fellow Jew.
This past Shabbos, I spent with a couple thousand Chabad Rabbi’s from around the world for the annual conference of Shluchim. The message that is communicated year in and year out, the Rebbe’s message, is a message of love for our fellow Jew. A love that transcends the physical differences, let alone political and emotional differences.
Coming away from another election which has become continuously more divisive, let’s all put away our differences, the things that divide us and focus on our inherent connection to each other, the soul that binds.
Have a Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman