Parshat Kedoshim 5771: The Jewish Nation – Unity, Protexia or Me First and Only?

by Moshe Burt

One of the main themes underlying Parsha Kedoshim is the loving care with which each Jew is to treat his Jewish brother. Indeed, we see that the first posuk of our Parsha conveys that spirit, “Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, “Speak to the entire assembly of B’nai Yisrael and say to them: You shall be holy, for holy am I, Hashem, your G’d.” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 1) Our Parsha then goes on to enumerate the Asseret HaDivrot, the Ten Commandments in depth.

But the spirit of our Parsha is best expressed by the principle taught by Rabbi Hillel to the convert, on one foot, that the entire Torah can be summed up with this one key concept whch says “V’ohavta L’rei’achaoh Komochah” — “… you shall love your fellow as yourself…” (Sefer Vayikra, Perek 19, posuk 18); to want for your fellow Jew what you would want for yourself, to not do to your fellow Jew what you would not want to happen to youself.

Sadly, in our times, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah, more often than not, is lacking amongst B’nai Yisrael, supplanted by “Me”, “Mine”,“my convenience”, “Me first.”

On a national level, long gone is a founding precept of modern-day Israel; what happens at your doorstep is like it happened at mine — whether we live as neighbors next door, or down the block, or in different cities or towns, whether on the northern-most and southern-most towns near the borders of Eretz Yisrael. Long gone is the unity which superseded and outweighed sectorial differences, prejudices and disagreements. Instead, there is disunity, division, senseless hatred and misconception which thus allow the opportunistic political protexia class; the Olmerts, Bibis, Baraks, Livnis, Ramons, etc. who thrive only on our factionalization and sectorial prejudices, to divide and conquer the Jewish masses through agitating sectors against each other thus endangering our very existence on our land through giving away our Divine legacy and birthright — the Land of Israel.

And it’s also on a Bein Adam L’Chaveiro level, V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah superseded by personal expediency, selfishness or self-advancement at the next guy’s expense. As was indicated in the drosh on “Dayenu” during Pesach, speed-of-light davening is symptomatic of these traits which find their ways into the place of business, our interactions with our Jewish brethren and dealing with our families. We, in our autos, speed past our brother, ignoring his welfare or that he has his finger out to go exactly where you are going. We see our brother running to catch a bus and don’t make an effort, on his behalf, to get the driver to wait that extra second. We flatly refuse to help a brother in even the smallest of ways and we are given excuses and rationalizations why we are refused, i.e., how they live such a hard life in Israel. A hard life?? A hard life?? Are they slaves with a quota of bricks each day and no straw to produce them?

Are they beaten unmercifully with whips? In Mitzrayim even then, a Jew reached out to help another Jew. But in modern-day Israel, Israeli merchant after Israeli merchant flatly refuse to reach into one’s cash register, or pocket, to make change for a Jewish pedestrian’s 10 shekel piece. We seem, often at the hghest communal levels, to turn a blind-eye and deaf ear to domestic or child abuse, criminality in the neighborhood, etc. And we invoke protexia to advance ourselves even though, in fairness — in a just society , our brother may actually be more needy or worthy.

Instead we give our brother a blank countenance, or a state of indifference and/or blunt insensitivity for we are only self-concerned. We are not totally forthcoming and truthful with our brother concerning the facts of a business or banking transactionoften putting “obstacles in the way of the blind” as we grub for that last shekel at the other guy’s expense.

There is a connection between this mido of loving kindness to our brethren and the role of the Kohen Gadol as a unifier and as a national emissary. The Kohen’s very essence is the paradigm of unity and of the concept of “V’ohavta L’rei’acha Komochah” in which we all unify as one.

If the B’nai Yisrael were to only glean from the Kohen, and apply the unity of loving kindness to our brethren, as to ourselves, the

Olmerts, Bibis, Baraks, Livnis would cease to exist. And then we’ll zocha to fulfill our assigned mission, to serve as a light, a model to the nations of Hashem’s blueprint for creation.

May we, the B’nai Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard, captive Gilad Shalit and the other MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem. May we have the courage to prevent the eviction of Jews from their homes and to prevent the handing of Jewish land over to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima — the Ultimate Redemption bim hay v’yameinu — speedily, in our time”, as Dov
Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem V’Kol HaGoyim” — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.