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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 22 Dec 2017 08:23 PM and ends Sat 23 Dec 2017 09:24 PM
י' טבת ה' אלפים תשע"ב
One of the highlights of my life, was at the kotel in Jerusalem one chol hamoed, joining with the tens of thousands of other people to receive a blessing from thousands of Tallis-bedecked cohanim.
There is something so special about Jewish unity. In a week when accusations and counter accusations of violence, segregation and discrimination have been flying around, it's important to focus on that which unites us, not on arbitrary divisions and miscommunications. We all share a common ancestry and are joined together in common purpose. All Jews contribute to the common weal and our pooled efforts will shortly see us redeemed.
I can only imagine the unity and camaraderie that will flourish when Moshiach finally comes. All of us, on the one page, united under one banner and working together in a common cause.
We read this week how the sons of our ancestor Ya'akov gathered at his deathbed to farewell their father and receive his parting instructions and blessings. And Ya'akov called to his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. (VaYechi 49:1).
According to the Talmud, Ya'akov wished to reveal the date of Moshiach's eventual arrival. However, I never really understood the timing. Why now?
Were it anyone else you'd assume that his ill health and imminent demise was driving him to focus on more spiritual matters and long for an era of peace and tranquillity when death will be defeated and G-dliness reign, but we're talking about Ya'akov here. Ya'akov was always spiritual. Ya'akov was always ready and waiting for Moshiach. His children couldn't have changed that much since the day before, so what made him decide that davka now was a propitious time to bring it up?
The determining factor that convinced Ya'akov that his children deserved redemption was their standing together. When the children of Israel come together in common cause, that alone brings holiness and happiness to the whole world and is independently deserving of redemption.
Davka now, when the whole world is broiling and flinging accusations in all directions, now is the time to emphasise that which brings us together, rather than pulls us apart. Our real enemies want us to turn on each other, but we cannot afford to lose track of our priorities. If we can manage to stand side by side, focusing on our commonality of purpose and our shared heritage and goals, then and only then will we merit redemption.