to speak to him, and said, “May G-d watch
over you.” His face lit up. He said, “Yes,
yes … G-d!” and followed us, walking through the electronic doorway with us
toward the bus, bowing and smiling
My wife and I had been speaking at the University of Michigan. At the Detroit airport, returning to New York, we had to wait for a shuttle bus. There was a man behind the counter, apparently from Haiti. He acted like a functionary, exhibiting no warmth or friendliness. As we left for the bus, I said “Thank you,” and reached out to shake his hand. This gesture had a remarkable effect. He suddenly emerged from behind the counter, bowing to us and smiling.
This was truly amazing. I saw how a person responds to respect. I saw how non-Jews respond to a blessing from a Jew. At the beginning of the Portion of Vayeitzei Hashem says to our Father Jacob, “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and by your offspring.” (Genesis 28:14) We should know that all the nations of the world are waiting for our blessing. This is also the import of the message that I described last week when I recounted the powerful statement of U. S. President Harry S. Truman to Rabbi Shlomo Lorincz zt”l.
There is one thing that, G-d forbid, reduces our power to deliver the blessing, and that is when we lose our unity. We know that our present Exile came about as a result of Sinas Chinom, unwarranted hatred between Jew and Jew. We know that we stood at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah only as a result of unity. As Rashi tells us, we were “k’ish echad b’lev echad … as one man with one heart.” (Rashi on Exodus 19:2) That is how we were able to receive the Torah.
In this week’s Torah Portion, the seeds of sinas chinom and disunity are planted. This is where it all begins, with the brothers’ jealousy and hatred of Yosef resulting in his being thrown into the pit and sold to the Ishmaelites. This leads directly to the archetypal Exile in which we descend to Egypt. This is the model for all future Exiles. “Ma’ase Avos siman l’banim … the deeds of the fathers are signs for the children.” (Ramban to Genesis 12:6)
We have relatives in Israel, a family with little children. They live near Ashkelon, which is twenty-seven miles from Gaza. The mommy told us that several weeks ago, during the massive missile attack, she was up all night. They could hear “boom … boom … boom.” The house shook every time a missile landed.
Do we understand this, my friends? Do we understand how isolated we are? The entire world is surrounding us with deadly weapons. We have no friends except our Father and King. Have we learned the lesson of this Parsha?
We need to be “like one man with one heart” in order to survive.
There is no other way, my friends.
The world is waiting for our blessing!