Jewish Discord When the Enemy is at the Gates!
When the second temple was besieged by Roman conqueror, Jews were not a united front against Titus and his army. There were no less than three groups that fought over control different areas within the city of Jerusalem.
These power struggles included a man named Simon son of Gigoras who controlled ten thousand men. Eleazar together with Simon the son of Arinus, who controlled over four hundred thousand men.
In the midst of the seize these groups had it out with one another.
As Josephus writes
“Now while these factions fought one against another, the people were their prey on both sides, as we have said already (stealing, looting, etc.). And that part of the people which would not join with them in their wicked practices, were plundered by both factions. they left a space wherein they might fight with each other. For this internal sedition did not cease, even when the Romans were encamped near their very walls. But although they had grown wiser at the first onset the Romans made upon them; this lasted but a while: for they returned to their former madness, and separated one from another, and fought it out: and did everything that the besiegers could desire them to do. For they never suffered any thing that was worse from the Romans, than they made each other suffer. Nor was there any misery endured by the city, after these actions, that could be esteemed new. But it was most of all unhappy before it was overthrown. While those that took it did it a greater kindness. For I venture to affirm, that the sedition destroyed the city, and the Romans destroyed the sedition: which it was a much harder thing to do, than to destroy the walls. So that we may justly ascribe our misfortunes to our own people, and the just vengeance taken on them to the Romans”. From – Josephus Flavius Book 5
So much is focused on the destruction that the Romans inflicted on other Jews during the period of mourning during the fast of Tisha B’Av. Josephus strongly reminds us that the dis-unity and in-fighting between the Jews was the ultimate cause of the destruction, not the breaching of the walls by Hadrian.
Who knows if the Jews were united could they have sued for peace by outlasting the Romans. We do know that the zealots burned all the stores of food, so that all people driven, by famine and hunger would fight. It seems that Josephus and the prophet Jeremiah described the deadly effects of the famine and how many thousands died by that cruel decision to burn the last of the storehouses of grain. Jeremiah in Eicha describes how mothers would snatch food out of the children’s mouths and resort to eating their children.
Jewish unity has never come natural to us, even with the enemy at the gates!
Isn’t it time we started addressing the dysfunctional nature of our nation? We are still so ready and so eager to join in a fight against another Jew and do so viciously instead of reaching out and finding the things that unite, not divide us.
Why not start to reach out to other Jews in a spirit of chesed (kindness) and connection. Yes, Jews are divided, but we can be united too. It all depends which
mindset you would like to adopt. Sure, it is easy to start a fight, quibble about this or that, and we do it really well.
It is harder to reach out and find the commonality that links us to other Jews upon which we can make that special connection.
This is truly the next step in Jewish “evolution”.
This stance really does not impinge or restrict you from practicing your Judaism in the way you were taught or wish to follow.
It truly is a free will choice that you can make about how you think about others.
Do we need to wait until the enemy is at our gate to try and unite? By then it will be too late.
G-d watches and waits. He waits for us to build bridges, get rid of our stance, to create a unity again.
How long will we wait to take this step?
Will you challenge yourself to try and seek unity or just go about your day judging others and looking to criticize other Jews for what they do or don’t do?
Titus used the Jewish division to his advantage. Will you ?
Now is the time when we mourn the Temple’s destruction to make a challenge to yourself to treat other Jews better. Jewish Unity is the next step in the Jewish evolution.Come join us in this challenge!