Becoming One Family

By: Daniella Weiss  |  November 21, 2023

By Daniella Weiss, Staff Writer

After attending the rally on November 15, 2023, in Washington D.C., it seemed appropriate to write this article. Being amongst so many Jews was quite impactful to me. It reminded me about what an amazing nation I am privileged to be a part of, and after hearing many speakers, one message stood out to me. Among the plethora of speakers, each uniquely echoed, that we must take action and we can’t remain passive or silent. We need to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are being held captive in Gaza. Similarly, on Sunday, during a rally in Boca Raton, Florida, that I attended, a very powerful story was told. There was a fire once in a town that was raging. Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman told the people to grab buckets and to fill them with water to put the fire out. The people said, “Rabbi, we aren’t firemen. We don’t know how to put out a fire.” Rabbi Elchanan responded, “when a fire is raging, everyone needs to put it out!” At the rally that day in Florida, the message was clear. There is a fire raging. Our brothers and sisters are being held hostage by Hamas. Our brave soldiers are currently fighting in Gaza. It is up to each one of us to respond to this time of crisis in klal Yisroel

It is quite clear to anyone who analyzes what happened on October 7, that we don’t understand how Hamas was able to break into Eretz Yisrael, and why the IDF lacked the intelligence to  respond as quickly as they have in the past. As Rav Willig explained in his class, although Israel will analyze what happened, we know that this was from Hashem. This is a call for all of us to improve in our service of Hashem and make the changes we haven’t made until now. Rav Willig expounded, that although we can’t point to a single mitzvah (positive commandment) that we need to improve in, we can say that we need to improve in our bein Adam l’chaveiro mitzvot (the actions between man and his fellow). Although we must continue increasing our tefillos and tehillim (prayers), we need to improve in how we treat others. We need to focus on two phrases from Pirkei Avos that Hillel said. In Pirkei Avos 1:14, Hillel says, “if I am only for myself, what am I?” This is a call to care for others. Hillel also says in Pirkei Avos 1:12, “be like the students of Aharon, loving peace and pursuing peace, loving people and bringing them closer to Torah.” Loving people is essential to being a Jew. Rabbi Akiva even said that loving your fellow Jew is the foundation of the entire Torah. 

At the rally, the message to Israel and all Jews worldwide was that we are not alone, because America will forever stand with Israel. We need to say this message to each of our fellow Jews and to tell them that they are not alone. The Jewish people are one big family. As we say in the beautiful song, acheinu kol Bais Yisroel, that our brothers are all of klal Yisroel. It is essential that we make a powerful effort to care for others at this time. Many of our friends on other secular college campuses are turning more towards their heritage now, but are also scared of how others may act violently against them on campus. We need to strengthen them at this time. This begins with us. There was much divisiveness in Eretz Yisrael before this war broke out. Hashem is calling upon us. As Tanna Devei Eliyahu 26a explains, “Hashem says do I lack anything? What do I ask of you? Just that you should love one another and honor one another.” This is all Hashem asks of us. Hashem should help us fulfill his only request of us and we should merit to truly care for others with genuine love because kol yisrael areiviim zeh lazeh, all Jews are responsible for each other.