CAN WE MEND THE RIFT BETWEEN DIASPORA AND ISRAELI JEWRY?
As we observe the deepening of the rift between Diaspora and Israeli Jewry we must all ask ourselves what can be done to heal this schism.
We all must sense deep down in our gut that we as a people can ill afford this divide. And it is therefore paramount that as a priority we must collectively focus our efforts in dealing with this major challenge.
During one of our leadership missions to Israel, a young man asked the world renowned scholar Rabbi Steinsaltz (may he be blessed with a complete and speedy recovery) what three things were most important in securing a healthy marriage. His answer was profoundly illuminating. Most important, he said was that the couple’s dreams must be aligned. Secondly, the pair must have interests about which they can talk to one another. Thirdly, he said, if they love each other, it helps.
I have no doubt that to a young man or woman looking for love this advice seems preposterous. However to a couple who have been married for many years I’m sure this would resonate deeply.
Now back to reconciling differences amongst world Jewry. There is only one way we can achieve this. And that is by aligning our dreams. We can only survive as one people if we all share a common dream.
The question is what is that dream?
What is that shared vision that unites the Jewish people around the world?
What is that dream that has connected our people across the ages?
The answer as always is gleaned from the Torah in this week’s portion.
As Jacob is on the verge of leaving the land of Israel for the Diaspora, we find him alone and afraid on a desolate mountain top. He has been forced to flee his homeland on a journey that he knows will be supremely challenging. He is at this point an incredibly lonely man.
But then he has a dream. In it he sees a ladder stretching the great abyss between heaven and earth. And then the voice of G-d calls out to him saying:
“I will give to you and to your descendents the land on which you are lying”.
“I am with you I will guard you wherever you go, I will bring you back to this land for I will not abandon you until I have carried out what I have spoken”.
It is this powerful dream which inspired Jacob almost four thousand years ago to be focused and fearless in successfully fulfilling his mission against the greatest odds.
It is vision that has for thousands of years inspired profound hope amongst his descendents to continue on this long and treacherous journey whilst at the same time being “a light unto the nations”. And in turn realising G-d’s promise that, “All the families of the Earth will be blessed through you and your descendants”.
It can only be this dream that can serve as a unifying vision which will begin to galvanise all of us, Jacob’s descendents.
Jacob’s dream was G-d’s vision of world history. It is also the mission with which G-d has empowered the Jewish people throughout the ages.