Let My People Know

"Graver than any controversy"


Quite often our internal fighting slides toward a point which I find both dangerous and frightening. 

I have seen such statements in newspapers, and even heard them from individuals – some of them people who are not considered extremists – from all walks of Jewish society. 

Everyone – those with the earlocks and those who go bear-headed, women with kerchiefs and women whose garments reveal more than they hide – speak in exactly the same manner about the "others." 

They say, "What have I got to do with them? We have nothing in common." 

I have heard people make statements such as, "Nothing in the world ties me to those religious people; I feel much closer to the Arabs" – along with parallel statements from the other side: "Those secularists, they are just like the gentiles." 

Similarly, "settlers" and "left-wingers" may consider each other total strangers.

Such statements are already beyond fighting. 

They express some kind of acceptance, but a very threatening one: it is acceptance of the same kind that comes after death. 

I cease to fight because there is no one to fight with anymore. 

The other party has changed, has become a stranger. 

Seeing the other not as an enemy, an opponent to be fought against, but rather as a stranger, seems to me the greatest, most terrible threat to our existence. 

So long as I assume that I am right and the other party is wrong, we are still in one group, we still belong to the same body. 

I can say that so-and-so is a wicked person and an unbeliever, and should be put to death in all the four forms of capital punishment – and still feel that a non-believer is closer to me than a righteous gentile. 

Losing the feeling that we are one, that we are one body, is graver than any controversy, even more than a civil war.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From an essay, "Achdut – Jewish Unity" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz