When the Jewish people were on there way into the Holy Land of Israel, on their way from Egypt, a small group made a request, they wanted to stay just outside the land of Israel, in an area known as “Ever Ha-Yarden – literally, the other side of the river” what is today known as Jordan. In response to this request, Moshe, the leader of the Jewish people, asked them, “הַאַחֵיכֶם, יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה, וְאַתֶּם, תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה – Will you allow your brothers to go to war, and you will sit here passively, in safety?”. This is a question that echoes through time, it is a question that every Jew throughout history must ask themselves. But, today, it is most poignant, because today we are in a situation which has only existed a few times since the days of Moshe. We sit here in safety and security, while our brothers, in the land of Israel fight wars.
Today is Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. For us, in America, celebrating Yom Ha’Atzmaut, this is a question that should haunt each of us, a question that we must always as ourselves, “הַאַחֵיכֶם, יָבֹאוּ לַמִּלְחָמָה, וְאַתֶּם, תֵּשְׁבוּ פֹה – Will we allow our brothers to go to war, while we sit here passively and in safety?”, it can be a difficult question for us, but we must face it. We cannot stand here idly and in safety, while our brothers face wars or any other threats.
Now, this does not mean that all of us must drop everything and join the Israeli Defense Force, or even make aliyah (although these would be very noble ideas, there is a lot more involved than a single day’s Jewish mission), in fact the small group of Jews from so many thousands of years ago, did remain in the Ever Ha-Yarden, in Jordan, but they supported their brothers when they needed them. They stood by their sides in times of war. What it does mean for us, is that we must stand by our brothers and help them in their time of need.
Today’s Jewish mission is to find a way to support our brothers (and sisters) in Israel, and stand by them even though we are here on the other side of the ocean. To not stand by passively in our safe bubbles, but to stand with them.