Many people now contemplate this question as several stories emerge of self-sacrifice to save others in the current Israel-Hamas war.
For example, on the first day of the war, six surviving friends had told how Cpl. Matan Abergil saved their lives by jumping on them to absorb a grenade’s force that had been thrown into their armored personnel carrier. Also, Tali Hadad, a mother of six, drove back and forth to take 13 wounded people to the emergency medical center in Ofakim while the city was under attack.
What goes through the mind of these people putting their own lives on the line for the sake of others?
It is simply that they are doing the right thing. They view saving others as the good and correct action to take in that moment, and this view gives them the strength to carry it out.
It is impressive because it goes against our survival instinct. We do, however, host an inclination to put our own lives at risk for the sake of others. Instinctively, we are like animals—even though the animal kingdom possesses several examples of self-sacrifice to save other animals—but acts of self-sacrifice to save others show us that we have capabilities beyond our base survival instincts.
We should learn from these acts of bravery that it is simply how we have to relate to each other. Every person hosts such potential. It is the potential to completely devote ourselves for the sake of others. In order to create a society with strong unifying bonds, we need to awaken this potential in our hearts.
One of the problems now in Israel is that stories of bravery and self-sacrifice circulate at a time of emergency, but where is our appreciation of these qualities in our day-to-day lives? In calmer times, we brush over such stories in favor of a more divisive discourse, taking sides against each other.
Since unity above division brought us together as a nation to begin with, then nothing will help us until we realize—at all times—that we are in a constant state of emergency until we achieve, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” We need to reach a state where we constantly uphold positive connections of mutual support, care and love above all of our divisive inclinations. When we do, we will see the world’s conflicts subside as a new, harmonious and peaceful world opens up.
Based on “An Inside Look” with Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman and Oren Levi on October 15, 2023. Written/edited by students of Kabbalist Dr. Michael Laitman.