Monday, October 17, 2005

A Jew is a Jew

Sometimes the most insignificant moments in life can cause be the most important ones. I have come to the realization that we are a silly and petty people at times, and I do not exclude myself from that description. We have been the most persecuted people on Earth for millenia, yet instead of unification in the face of the enemy, we continue to divide ourselves into camps. I am not am not even talking about the Left vs Right battle that we face on the political scene. It goes much deeper than that. I had a conversation with a friend, where we were discussing the differences in our customs. He being mizrahi, and I being of the Ashkenazi tradition. We were laughing at each other (in good fun) as to how differently we daven and how/when we say brachot, how we lay tefillin in our own ways, how our kippot differ, etc., etc. I went on to tell him a story of how my first rav, after I made teshuva many years ago, taught me the Ashkenazi way to bind the tefillin shel yud onto my arm and which of the brachot to say at each point. I was very slow to learn, as at the time I did not have my own set of tefillin, and I only did so on Sundays after Chumash study at shul. In order to fulfill the tefillin mitzvah, I had to borrow my rabbi's set. On one such sunday, my rav was tied up with helping someone else put on their tefillin. I was eager to get started, so I had a sephardic friend of mine assist me. He prompted me at the appointed times, and I read the appropriate bracha from my siddur as I put the tefillin on. Before he finished helping me, my rabbi interjected, "Tovya is Ashkenazi, we do it different. Just let me help him." And with that, my rabbi took over. The rabbi did not mean to be ill in his interjection, but I could tell that my friend felt a little strike of pain at the rabbi's words. I could see in his face that he believed that the rabbi was creating a very vocal barrier between Jews of two different traditions. (which of course he wasn't, it just seemed that way) I am not trying to take away from tradition, as I know that they are important parts of our lives as Jews. Yet I sometimes wonder if we don't put too much emphasis on the DIFFERENCES in our traditions & customs. Instead of seeing this differences as rich and wonderful, they are used too often as a means in which to seperate. I understand that for thousands of years our different cultures were physically seperated on different ends of the globe, therefore these distinct customs evolved. But now that our once seperated Jewish communities are seperated no longer, why do we allow these beautiful tradtions to become ugly walls of seperation? And do not mistake me for saying that each of our traditions should be shown the door either. All I am saying is, who cares if I the ashkenazi, daven in a predominantly sephardic minyan? Yes, they will say baruch and I will say boruch, but it doesn't matter. The important thing is that we are all Jews, and dividing ourselves into camps will only help the enemy. They want to see us divided. Hashem wants us to be united. Would we choose the will of our enemy over the will of our G-d? It doesn't matter if your wear a colorful knit kippah or a black velvet one. It doesn't matter if you are the untucked type or the black-suit type. A Jew is a Jew, so let's act like we believe it. I know what I am saying sounds like a silly rant, but I see this disunity in galus first hand, and I see it in the political scene in Eretz Yisrael from afar. Customs and traditions have become a barrier between us. To make a long story short, if we will not be for ourselves, who shall be for us? Respect your culture, and love your traditions, but more importantly realize that they are petty in the overall scale of things. What's most important is that you love your fellow Jew.


Blogger ifyouwillit said...

It doesn't matter if your wear a colorful knit kippah or a black velvet one. It doesn't matter if you are the untucked type or the black-suit type. A Jew is a Jew, so let's act like we believe it.

Kol Hakavod, if only more people would act this way, we would be closer to solving many of our problems.

I spent chag in Gush Etzion with friends and there was a lovely mix of Charedi, Breslov, Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish and Dati Leumi, and we all sat in the sukka and celebrated together, and for the most part, there was no division.

10/18/2005 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger Tovya @ Zion Report said...

I agree brother. We shall see the day when it happens, even if moshiach has to come first :-)

10/19/2005 05:30:00 PM  

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