How many of you just had some visceral reaction to that word?
Ooooo. Are you getting riled up? Angry? Planning a comment already?
I know, those crazy guys, ugh, who can’t have an opinion about this simultaneously outgoing and completely insular group? Oooo, they’re so nice, they must be up to something right? Plus I hear they roll with that whole Baal Shem Tov crowd. Oh boy, I’ve heard they’re trouble.
How’s that comment coming? Getting ready to write something inflammatory? Something you’ve written on twenty other blogs? Oh man, I’ll bet those emotions are really boiling now.
Or maybe you’re ready to defend. Ready to scream at all those people who been causing all that Haterade to be passed around the kiddush table. Maybe even call ’em misnagdim. Oh yeah. Punks.
Or how about another word?
Oooo. Bam. Intense. Ready for something? Ready to bust it out? I know, you’ve got something ready.
Secular Liberal Jews.
Oh boy. Have I given anyone enough things to write yet? How about one more.
Yeah man, we’ve all got hang ups. We’ve all got those groups we love to hate. Hate to love. Whatever. We all got those people we’re ready to point the finger at, write a page-long comment about, just to shove ’em in the dirt.
Online, it’s so easy to make blanket statements. To call people out, to generalize.
When does the Haterade start to taste sour? It’s when we’re face to face with our supposed enemies.
When we finally meet your local Chabad rabbi and he’s really not such a bad guy (well, he must be an exception). When we go to a settlement and realize that they’re not all ready to kill at the drop of a hat, that many of them are peace-loving hippies (exception again, right?). When we realize that that annoying secular Jew that lives next door and blasts Dark Side of the Moon every night, actually is one of the deepest guys we’ve ever met. When we see how much good a Jewish rapper can do with one song.
What does it mean to have ahavas Israel, to love our fellow Jews as ourselves?
It’s when the those sharp lines we created, when they get all grayed up. When we start to realize that hey, some people in our own “group” are even bigger punks than those Chabad folks. Even the Meshichists!
What does it mean to truly understand that a Jew shares your soul?
It’s when we let go of the comments, the generalizations, the anger the hate. When we realize that just as we act like fools sometimes, but know that deep down we have a pure, beautiful, divine soul, so too do the people in those groups.
It’s when those words become nothing more than words. When we realize that the words “Chabad”, “Secular”, “Settlers”, are just a distraction from the reality we already know. The reality that we are all one, and that all G-d wants is for us to accept it and stop making a fuss already.
Elad Nehorai writes the To Light a Spark blog on Chabad.org. He also recently started a personal blog called Pop Chassid.com that looks at pop culture, and the world in general, from a chassidic perspective.