Sukkos and Unity

It’s no secret that Klal Yisrael is plagued by disunity. Nor is this a new phenomenon. In the years leading up to the destruction of the Second Bais Hamikdash, more Jews were killed in clashes by fellow Jews than by the Romans. Baruch Hashem the many disputes that plague our people nowadays have not led to bloody clashes, but the lack of unity among us is a source of concern.

The last several months included several painful events that brought the nation together as seldom in recent memory. First the kidnapping and brutal execution of the three yeshivah students united us all, Hy”d. The State of Israel was mobilized to search for them. Jews everywhere prayed fervently. Even Yair Lapid took time off from his war against Torah mosdos to visit one of the families and tell them that for the first time since his son’s bar mitzvah, he opened up a siddur and said a tefillah for the missing boys. The yeshivah bachur who was lost in the Jerusalem forest brought about a similar response, as thousands searched and hundreds of thousands davened. And, of course, the Gaza war — the thousands of missiles on innocent civilians and the scores of Jewish
korbanos  — was on the minds, hearts and lips of Jews worldwide.

If only that unity could be sustained!

Chazal say that the army of Achav Harasha never sustained casualties because they were united, but the army of Dovid suffered losses because there was ill will among them. Who was greater than Dovid and who was worse than Achav? — but unity brought success to Achav and disunity brought tragedy to Dovid.

Sukkos especially is a time when we should work to reach out to acheinu Bnei Yisrael whether we agree with them or not — and even if they fall far short of living according to the Torah. Chazal tell us that the arbaah minnim represent four different kinds of Jews: Those who have both “taam and rei’ach”— meaning Torah and good deeds; those who have Torah but are deficient in good deeds; those who have good deeds, but lack Torah; and those who have neither. Obviously, those who have neither Torah nor good deeds are far from the ideal, nevertheless we not only use all four species to perform the mitzvah of arbaah minim, we grasp them together as one unit. So, too, Klal Yisrael. We are one nation, all of us children of Hashem. And if some of us are lacking in Torah, good deeds, or even both, we do not abandon them. We must draw them close.

The Michtav MeEliyahu quotes the Yalkut that all these people — from the elevated to the most degraded — are part of Klal Yisrael. Hashem says, “It is impossible for Me to discard them. Rather let them be brought together in one bundle,” like the four very different species in the mitzvah of arbaah minim.

Let us have the wisdom and perseverance to live this way and to strengthen the heroic individuals and institutions who carry out the often thankless but indispensable task of bringing us together. In this merit may the next Sukkos become the time of the ultimate Zman Simchaseinu.