Deeply disturbed by the absence of harmony “in our fractious community,” the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) have called upon member synagogues, member rabbis and affiliated day schools to devote tomorrow’s Fast of Asara b’Tevet (Thursday, January 5) to prayer and study to restore harmony and to overcome the sin of sinat chinam (baseless hatred) so deeply affecting the Jewish people. “Through shiurim (classes), tefillah (prayer), and other targeted programs, we ask that you highlight and refocus your communities to the primacy of kevod hab'riyot, respect for the dignity of all human beings, within Jewish thought and law,” the organizations said in a statement issued yesterday.
One of these targeted programs will be a live webcast, “Call to Action,” featuring Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President, Emeritus of the OU, and Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, President of the RCA. It can be viewed at www.ou.org/harmony at 12:15 p.m., EST.
In the statement, the two organizations declared, “One of the tragedies commemorated on the 10th of Tevet is the first recorded sin of sinat chinam (baseless hatred) to affect the Jewish people -- the sale of Yosef (Joseph) which took place on that day.
“We know that we are still in exile because we have not overcome the sin of sinat chinam. The past few months in Israel have witnessed sectarian violence of Jew vs. Jew, from extremes within both the Religious Zionist and the Charedi communities. We have condemned these frighteningly divisive events as threats to the very fabric of Israeli society.
“Each fast day on the Jewish calendar is designed to spur us towards individual and communal teshuvah (repentance), and return to the proper path. At this time, we need to engage in cheshbon hanefesh (internal introspection) to examine how sinat chinam has become so prevalent in our generation.
“The Rabbinical Council of America and the Orthodox Union call upon all our members, member synagogues and affiliated day schools to dedicate this Fast of Asara b'Tevet specifically to prayer and study aimed at restoring harmony to our fractious community.”
“May God hear our prayers and grant us the wisdom to unite our people in peace and mutual respect, and may we merit to see a generation imbued with ahavat achim (brotherly love).”
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