The spirit of Hakhel gives hope for unity
On Chol Hamoed Sukkot, we held the closing events of the Israeli Shmita Initiative.
We carried our Hakhel Treaty on a three-day journey of events, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: collecting the lessons of the Shmita year and calling for the renewal of the covenant between all sectors of Israeli society. Whenever we stopped, we participated in mass events, with a clear message of unity and connection in the spirit of Hakhel.
The journey began at the port of Tel Aviv, as part of the opening event of the Hakhel BaNamal festival in conjunction with Beit Tefilah Israeli. Hundreds of people, shofars, Torah scrolls, and my daughters (!) called for the Treaty to be honoured as our Hakhel contribution.
We took the Treaty on a two-day march to Jerusalem, under the banner, “connecting on the road to Jerusalem” – thousands of participants went up on this pilgrimage, on foot, during Chol Hamoed Sukkot, meeting and getting to know each other on the way.
The event reached its climax with a huge ceremony at Mount Herzl – again shofars, again with our Treaty as the central focus, with leaders of different faiths signing the Treaty, which read – “We hereby declare our concern and mutual responsibility to do everything we can to establish a society worthy of this wonderful land.
” Today, two weeks later, the reality in Israel speaks a different language, a language of separation and pain. The whole journey seems like a dream …
Parashat Noah, which we read last Shabbat, tells how Noah saved the animals from extinction in the flood but did not pray for the people who would suffer a similar fate. Our sages hint that Noah did not ask for mercy for his generation, since he did not believe they could repent and thus be worthy of being saved. For Noah, mankind started afresh over after the flood, but Abraham was a warrior for justice, fighting for the lives of the righteous men of Sodom: he is our father. And Moses – who prayed that the sinners of the golden calf should have a second chance – is our teacher.
I call for us all to pray for ourselves and for this Land of Israel, and to believe in our power to correct the current situation.