Yesterday, a new government was sworn in, in Israel. A new government is always a chance to reflect on, and hope for a proper government, which functions the way a government that works for the people should. If, theoretically, we were to have a government that had the people’s best interest in mind, we would see a two-section plan. Section no. 1 would detail the ideal situation, the greatest achievements we can imagine. Section no. 2 would slice Section 1 into small, digestible bites that we can carry out one at a time. In my view, the greatest achievement we can hope for, and that we should strive to achieve, is mutual responsibility and love of others, as in the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we achieve this, we will also achieve every other imaginary reward.
However, for this to happen, we first need to agree that the purpose of the existence of the people of Israel and the State of Israel is indeed to live in mutual responsibility and love of others. The foundation of our nation, the basic tenet of being Jewish, is love of others. The Jerusalem Talmud writes (Nedarim 30b), “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’; Rabbi Akiva says, ‘This is a great rule in the Torah.’” The book Likutey Halachot [Assorted Rules] elaborates on the topic and explains that all the different factions must achieve unity not in order to defeat a common foe, but in order to achieve love. “The vitality is mainly through unity, by all the changes being included in the source of the unity,” the author, Nathan Sternhartz, writes. “For this reason,” he continues “‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ is the great rule of the Torah, to be incorporated in unity and peace. The vitality, sustenance, and correction of all of creation are mainly by people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace.”
In light of today’s deteriorating societal situation in Israel and the country’s declining international status, I think we must all realize that returning to our roots, to the only source of power and legitimacy that we have ever had, is no longer an option; it is mandatory! We must start discussing on every channel and every panel how mutual responsibility and love of others pertain to our current state, why they are the most important tasks we have today, and what will happen if we don’t carry them out. We need to educate ourselves about this just as we educate ourselves about everything else that’s important to us in life.
Moreover, education toward love of others must be part of the education system, embedded in the curriculum of every school as one of the core subjects to be taught, and enhanced through extracurricular educational programs and activities. If we think about Sternhartz’s words, that “The vitality, sustenance, and correction of all of creation are mainly by people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace,” it is easy to see how far we are from it. The events of the past several months leave us no choice but to strive toward it above all the difficulties and despite, and even because of our inherent resentment toward each other.
We have to keep in mind that we are unlike any other nation. Every nation comes from someone and belongs to some core nucleus of people who start it. Jews come from everywhere and do not belong to any core nucleus of people. When Abraham gathered people around him and began to teach them about unity, just as we need to do now, his students came from all over the Fertile Crescent and the Middle-East. They came from different tribes and nations and had nothing in common but the idea of “people of different views becoming incorporated together in love, unity, and peace.” So, if we don’t reinstate our unity, how are we a nation? We return to being a crowd of strangers who don’t believe in the idea of unity and don’t see any reason to establish unity among them. Is it hard to see that in such a state, our days as a nation are numbered?
If we want to see Israel going forward successfully, we must establish it correctly, not the way other nations are built, since we are not like other nations, as is evident to everyone, but the way Israel is meant to be built—on the basis of love of others and mutual responsibility. Therefore, even before we think about the new government, we must think about the future form of our country and our nation.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and some of his government attend its first cabinet meeting in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem June 13, 2021. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun