by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner
What’s going to be with our camp? That’s a good question.
Yet another question precedes it. “How do you define ‘our camp’?”
And still another question precedes that one: Who says it is permissible in the first place for “our camp” to exist as separate from other camps?
Search the whole Torah – oral and written – and you will not find that the Master-of-the-Universe ever divided up the world into groups and streams, parties and sectors, sects and constituencies. Rather, the Jewish People are one.
Certainly there are differences between different individuals. Some are more strict regarding some mitzvoth. Others are stricter regarding others. Some fulfill all the mitzvoth. Others are weak in all the mitzvoth. Certainly we can distinguish between different individuals. Yet we have never seen that this justifies dividing people into separate communities.
Unfortunately this actually occurred during the Second Temple period, resulting in the Temple’s destruction, as Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin, the Natziv, writes in the introduction to his Torah commentary, Ha’amek Davar.
Therefore, dividing ourselves into different camps is forbidden, as a form of groundless hatred. There is hatred that is not groundless, as when someone insults or harms his fellow man, causing him to hate him. I shall not get into whether such hatred is permissible or not, and whether it might be avoidable, but all the same it is not groundless.
Groundless hatred means hating someone who is not similar to me and does not belong to my group. It means saying, “My group has all the truth and all the justice and all the integrity, whereas the other group has all the evil and all the corruption.” As the philosopher Kant said, “It is dangerous to say, ‘We’, for that leads us to say as well, ‘They’.”
Indeed, not only is groundless hatred forbidden, but dangerous. Whoever draws dividing lines within the nation ignores a grave danger. We cannot allow ourselves this luxury in our day. When all is said and done, we’ve got 300 million enemies from without and several more million from within, plus another billion Christians and a billion Muslims offering them assistance. At a time like this, we must be united.
For us to be divided is foolish and suicidal. As Benjamin Franklin said during the American War of
Independence against the British, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Not only is it dangerous, but it’s not true either, but only illusory. This division between groups does not exist in reality. It is imaginary. For example, one of the groups is called “national religious”, but our master Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook never used that term, nor did his son, our master Rav Tzvi Yehuda Kook. Quite the contrary, Rav Kook the father, in his work Orot, at the end of Orot HaTechiya, states that the division between the religious and the nationalists is imaginary.
If so, in light of all this, who is “our camp”? Our camp is the Jewish People! The British or the French are not our camp. Our camp is the Jewish People.
We’ve got to get used to this. The Jewish People are eclectic, but they are the Jewish People.
“Who is like Your people, O Israel, one nation in the Land” (II Samuel 7:23).