In an abrupt and unsettling turn of events, the specter of war has descended upon Israel. From the morning hours, Israelis find themselves glued to a web of information sources, receiving constant news updates, and sharing their thoughts with family, neighbors and friends. A palpable sense of anxiety weighs heavily among Israel’s residents as Israel suddenly finds itself at war again.
Indeed, we had a major security lapse. It is a failure characteristic of our tendency to underestimate our adversaries and our lack of military readiness. However, we should not mistake this lapse for an isolated incident. It is rather a symptom of a deeper enduring malaise afflicting our nation.
The heated divisions in Israeli society of recent times have been recurring for 75 years, if not centuries and millennia. Today, as in the past, we find ourselves again completely missing the point when it comes to our role in the world, and the overblown ego within each and every one of us intensifies our division.
Israel—i.e., the people of Israel—is a nation founded on the timeless principle, “love your neighbor as yourself.” Whenever we stray from the path to unite above our divisions, letting our connections become polluted with mutual animosity, we invite tragedies upon ourselves.
It is worth asking, then, what else could we expect? By letting hatred relentlessly accumulate toward each other, how could we think that hatred would not also surface toward us? This enmity clings to us like an unshakeable specter. The demonstrations of hatred in Tel Aviv, and all of our insults and the attempts to harm each other can only yield one outcome, for which we must all shoulder accountability. We need to acknowledge that we alone bear the responsibility for drawing these conflicts upon ourselves, as is it written, “No calamity comes to the world but for Israel” (Talmud Bavli, Yevamot, 63:1).
Our catastrophe is that we let the egoistic and divisive drives within each of us get the better of us, a sentiment King Solomon wisely cautioned against when he urged, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1).
How can we avert more severe trials in the days ahead? It is by fostering humility and cultivating a genuine yearning for heartfelt connections today. As the text Maor va Shemesh (Light and Sun) attests, “The primary shield against calamity is love and unity. When love and unity prevail among the people of Israel, and they abstain from harming one another, calamity finds no foothold.”
The pivotal factor for achieving a life of harmony and peace is our attitude to one another. We should hold no concerns or fears other than that of letting divisive drives overpower our motion to unite.
Everyone following the unfolding events would thus be wise to contemplate the deeper reasons behind the situation that has befallen Israel today. Only unity above division can lead us to a peaceful resolution, one that assumes paramount importance in these trying times.