Thursday, July 21, 2005

שנאת חינם : Infinite Hatred

Its difficult for me to write about what's going on at the borders of Gaza right now. I have my own opinions on disengagement; but that is not what I wish to comment on here, because the civil discord emerging around this issue speaks to me of some of the darkest forces at work in Jewish history and some of the issues which pain me on the most personal of levels. To see Jews attacking, hating, or even killing other Jews (which has not yet happened, thank God, but may well be a possibility before all this is over) is to witness what I consider an abomination; an assault against the rightful workings of the world. We have enough people out there who want to slit our throats without wasting our time, energy, and talents slitting our own. I do not say this merely in relation to any particular political position; both right and left are guilty of rhetorical and even physical violence against their opponents. Altalena or the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, they are both expressions of the same horrendous phenomenon; Israeli writer Amos Oz spoke to it when he said that the Jewish people may be the world's foremost experts in self-destruction. One cannot watch the pictures coming out of the demonstration in Kfar Maimon, or see the image of settler leaders calling Ariel Sharon a dictator without conjuring up a terrible memory: that in the Great Revolt against Rome more Jews were killed by other Jews than by the Roman legions. It can be said that this was a long time ago; but for us, the destruction of the Temple was yesterday, and the Exodus from bondage both today and tomorrow. The Jewish people lives with its history more immediately than perhaps any other people on earth; it exists for us as the most primal and ferocious energy, both for good and for ill; and the forces unleashed yesterday may be unleashed tomorrow with results which can be glorious or terrible to contemplate. I can say only this: I am afraid, afraid for our country and afraid for our people; we have enemies enough without including ourselves in their ranks. The great rabbis were once asked why the Temple was destroyed, they replied: "because of sinat chinam"; infinite hatred, unbridled hatred. And they meant hatred between Jews. I hope all of us remember that in the coming days and weeks; it may save us all from a nightmare none of us desire or even desire to contemplate.