The flight that I boarded on my way to the Central East NCSY Spring Regional Convention this past weekend was packed. Apparently for the non-NCSY world, they call the last weekend in May: Memorial Day Weekend. However, for those of us raised in the NCSY world, its simply referred to as Spring Regional.
As I settled into my seat I took out my tractate of talmud to study during the flight to Detroit. My eye caught a glimpse of what the woman sitting next to me was reading; it was a preparatory study guide of some type. However, what was different about this study guide was that it was written in Hebrew. We both spent the majority of our flight focused on our studies. However as the captain announced that in twenty minutes we would be landing, I turned to my seatmate and asked her what she was studying. She explained to me, in a Russian accent, that she loved boating and was preparing for a boating license exam, in order to sail to Europe. We discussed boating for a few minutes and then she asked me what I was studying, "Is this gemara (talmud)?". I said "yes" and began to explained the layout of the page with the text and multiple commentaries. From there, we began speaking about why each of us was traveling to Detroit; she was attending her niece's Bat Mitzvah.
As our dialog continued, she said to me "that this would never happen in Israel. Observant and non-observant Jews chit-chatting together, never!" Sad, just sad!
This past month I was speaking with a major Jewish world leader. In our conversation I asked him his opinion of where the Jewish people of today are in the perspective of Jewish history. He responded that, "The success of American Jews is a major concern for our people today. We have saved the Soviet Jews, the Ethiopian Jews, the Syrian Jews and now there is no one left for us to save. Because of that we turn our attention to "saving'' Jews from their ideology." He continued and said, "Achdut (togetherness as a nation) is what has given us our success to save the other groups and only through achdut, will we continue to be successful."
The Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple) was destroyed because of an abundance of unnecessary hatred among the Jewish people. The type that Haman described to King Achasvarosh in Megilat Esther (chapter 3, verse 8) "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people". Our Rabbis teach 'that every generation that does not rebuild the Beit Hamikdash
(Holy Temple) in their days (בימו) it is as if that generation destroyed it'. The Tzefas Emes asks 'does that mean that the previous generations, with many holy people, many more than ours, were
not able to rebuild it, instead they themselves destroyed it?'
The Tzefas Emes explains, that the word בימו, can be read in our lives/days or with our lives/days. Read it as with our lives; meaning that every generation needs to work together towards turning around the hatred between one anther and as we do that we are each helping construct the third Beit Hamikdash. However, a generation that walks away from their responsibility is only compounding the destruction. Non-observant and observant Jews need to come together. We need to convince Hashem that we can attain this level without sending another adversary to the Jewish people. We shouldn't need outside motivators to save one another in order for us to get along.
Can you imagine what this future yacht captain that I sat with on the plane was thinking when she was finally released from the Soviet Union. She comes to Israel to see a victory parade of Jews arm in arm together and instead she found a different reality about where the Jewish people are up to in our history.
Lets do our part in the building and avoid the breaking!
Have a great month!