In school I am delivering a speech and the topic I have chosen is "The importance of Israel to North American Jews today." I don't have any family in Israel and have no real connection to the country. As a result, when I hear about the current crisis in Israel, I don't get as emotional as others who have more connection to Israel. I want to provide an answer to the question: Why we should care about Israel today? Perhaps you have some ideas.
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
The Talmud says: "The Jewish people are called 'person,' but other nations are not called 'person.' What does this mean? Of course non-Jews are also human beings!
The explanation is that the entire Jewish people are a singular unit, all part of the same reality. If you're slicing something and accidentally cut your finger, do you take the knife and cut your other hand in revenge? Of course not. Why? Because your other hand is part of you, too. The Jewish people are one. I love my right hand as much as my left hand.
Indeed, when one group of Jews has a problem, we all share in the problem.
During World War Two, Rabbi Aaron Kotler went to Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, to ask for his help in stopping the slaughter of Jews in Europe. Morgenthau was as assimilated as any Jew could be. But Rabbi Kotler put it into stark terms: “If you cannot help rescue you fellow Jews at this time, then your position is worth nothing, because one Jewish life is worth more than all the positions in Washington!"
Morgenthau looked at Rabbi Kotler's fiery stare, and put his head down on his desk. Minute after minute went by in the silent room. Finally, Morgenthau looked up and looked directly at Rabbi Kotler. "I am a Jew," Morgenthau said with great dignity and emotion. "I am willing to give up my life – not just my position – for my people."
In terms of the singular unit of the Jewish people, even Morgenthau felt it.
This deep connection is seen whenever there is a terror attack in Israel. All Jews feel it as one of their own.
The Talmud says that the Jewish people were able to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai only because they were united as one. Similarly, the final redemption for which we so deeply yearn will only come when all Jews are united.
We pray for the day when all Jews will share a spirit of tolerance and acceptance, and genuine care for one another.