I VANT TO BE ALONE
Rabbi David Walk
In the 1960's
The loneliness of
This phenomenon bothered Golda OB"M and many others, but should it? On the mystical side many rabbinic authorities claimed that this aloofness from the world helped our spiritual development, and was necessary for us to achieve the status of a kingdom of priests and a holy people (Exodus 19:6). We had to remain apart to have the proper influence on the others. The great American historian Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989) commented on this in a manner somewhere between academic and clergy: The history of the Jews is . . . intensely peculiar in the fact of having given the Western world its concept of origins and monotheism, its ethical traditions, and the founder of its prevailing religion, yet suffering dispersion, statelessness and ceaseless persecution, and finally in our times nearly successful genocide, dramatically followed by fulfillment of the never-relinquished dream of return to their homeland. Viewing this strange and singular history one cannot escape the impression that it must contain some special significance for the history of mankind, that in some way, whether one believes in divine purpose or inscrutable circumstance, the Jews have been singled out to carry the tale of human fate.
Yehuda Avner, who advised four Israeli Prime Ministers, has recently written a great book chronicling those days called The Prime Ministers. One of the stories he tells about Menachem Begin was about a weekly gathering of significant scholars at the prime minister's residence to study Torah. The Saturday night before Begin's first trip to
Menachem Begin was moved by this long quote and added, "So there you have it. Cease dwelling alone and we cease to exist. What a conundrum!" It is a conundrum, but also a challenge.
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the
It is neither an easy nor a comfortable fate to be 'a people that dwells alone', but it is a challenging and inspirational one.
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