The recent events in London have brought out the best and worst of our society. It is clear that, as we will read in a couple of weeks in the Hagadda, “in every generation there are those who will arise to attempt to destroy us,” yet at the same time we have seen the best of society too, people risking their lives and refusing to be cowed by terror. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims.
Twenty five years ago the Lubavitcher Rebbe suffered a debilitating stroke that led to his passing. The day before his stroke the Rebbe spoke about the weekly parshah (that year was a leap year and Vayakhel and Pekudai were read separately) and addressed the theme of unity. This was his final public message to the Jewish people and to the wider world:
“… the message of Vayakhel applies to the Jewish people and alludes to their being gathered together to form a single collective entity in the spirit of the mitzvah, "Love your fellow man as yourself." This is possible, because all Jews share a single essence; all are "truly a part of G-d from above."…
“In simple terms, this command means that when a person sees another Jew, he should try to unite with him, for in truth they share a fundamental commonalty. This applies, not only to the Jews in one's immediate community, but to all Jews, even those far removed, indeed, even those in a distant corner of the world. Needless to say, the manner in which these feelings of unity are expressed will differ in terms of the practical means of expression available, but the feelings of oneness are universal in nature.
“Even when the distance is spiritual in nature, i.e., when another Jew does not share one's level of Jewish observance, one should focus on the connection shared and not on the differences. In regards to one's personal conduct, one must emphasize two modes of serving G-d -- striving both to "Turn away from evil and do good." When, however, one relates to another individual, one must channel one's energies solely in the path of "Do good."
The message is clear. A community that cares is a strong community, unified by common goals that transcend geographical and religious boundaries. A community will be strong and resilient. It was a Messianic vision from a Rabbi who cared deeply about the redemption, but it is a vision that we must strive to make into a reality.