Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 45 - Rabbi Benny Lau

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

“Who sees crowds of Israelites should say: ‘Blessed who art wise in secrets’,  because their minds differ and their faces differ”. (Tosefta Berakhot)

God, “who art wise in secrets”, knew how to spread the source of the divine light in his world and to give each and every one, their special coloring, which is only theirs. In order to realize this value of diversity and the multitude of faces and opinions, one needs to learn the secret of “Tzimtzum” (contraction), the secret of the place which each person gives the other person, seeing the other as seeing the face of God. The Secret of Tzimtzum means deep recognition of the need to clear space, the exclusive realization of contraction while acknowledging the existence of the other. The secret of Tzimtzum is held by individuals, as in a marital and family relationship, however the destiny of the people of Israel is to keep this big secret  both as a “Kingdom of Priests” and as a whole society, not only as individuals. 

The difficult tension between us cannot be resolved by political handoffs in which one side overcomes and defeats the other. These legislations, whichever side they are on, do not restore and do not heal the fracture but deepen the disconnection.

The desire to live as a whole society, as a living body which holds in it the consciousness of partnership in destiny and vocation, must search for a solution which is not a decision but an acknowledgment.

Recognizing the existence of others and of their needs, gives birth to the contraction of the “I”. Each such contraction creates a common living space, which allows one to move around in unity. The poet Amir Gilboa, designed this movement for us:

We were like returning to a dream, connecting disconnections into a whole”.

First of all, “connecting the disconnections into a whole” is a deep and rooted understanding that I am not whole. I am just a part, and those on my right and left, they are also parts. Only by the contraction of the “I” and recognizing the place of “You”, who walks beside me, will the process of realizing the dream begin to unfold. Our chance to realize the dream of our people’s return to their land depends on deepening this consciousness of giving permission and space to each other.

The liberation movement from individual ownership is the recipe for long life together. 

With great hope and prayer that “the one who makes peace will make peace on us" and between us.


Rabbi Benny Lau

Rabbi Benny Lau, is the head of 929 and the chairman of “Akim” Israel (Israeli national organization for people with intellectual disabilities and their families).

Photo Credit: Netanel Tobias

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