The Power of Community
1א

אמרו שנים עשר אלף זוגים תלמידים היו לו לרבי עקיבא מגבת עד אנטיפרס וכולן מתו בפרק אחד מפני שלא נהגו כבוד זה לזה

It was said that Rabbi Akiva had twelve thousand pairs of disciples, from Gabbat to Antifaras; and they all died at the same time because they did not treat each other with respect.

2ב

(יד) הוא היה אומר, אם אין אני לי, מי לי.וכשאני לעצמי, מה אני.ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי.

(14) This was another favorite teaching of his: If I am not for me, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?

3ג

(א) בַּחֹדֶשׁ הַשְּׁלִישִׁי לְצֵאת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה בָּאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינָי. (ב) וַיִּסְעוּ מֵרְפִידִים וַיָּבֹאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינַי וַיַּחֲנוּ בַּמִּדְבָּר וַיִּחַן שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶגֶד הָהָר.

(1) In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. (2) And when they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mount.

4ד

(ב) "ויחן שם ישראל" - כאיש אחד בלב אחד אבל שאר כל החניות בתרעומות ובמחלוקת (מכילתא)

(2) 2 "Israel camped there" - Like one person with one heart. But all of their other encampments took place with complaining and disagreement. (Mekhilta)

5ה

(לה) וַיְהִי בִּנְסֹעַ הָאָרֹן וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה קוּמָה יְהוָה וְיָפֻצוּ אֹיְבֶיךָ וְיָנֻסוּ מְשַׂנְאֶיךָ מִפָּנֶיךָ. (לו) וּבְנֻחֹה יֹאמַר שׁוּבָה יְהוָה רִבְבוֹת אַלְפֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.

(35) And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said: ‘Rise up, O LORD, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee.’ (36) And when it rested, he said: ‘Return, O LORD, unto the ten thousands of the families of Israel.’

6ו
(א) וַיְדַבֵּר יְהוָה אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. (ב) שְׁלַח לְךָ אֲנָשִׁים וְיָתֻרוּ אֶת אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אִישׁ אֶחָד אִישׁ אֶחָד לְמַטֵּה אֲבֹתָיו תִּשְׁלָחוּ כֹּל נָשִׂיא בָהֶם.

(1) And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: (2) ’Send thou men, that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel; of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a prince among them.’

7ז

(כו) וַיֵּלְכוּ וַיָּבֹאוּ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל מִדְבַּר פָּארָן קָדֵשָׁה וַיָּשִׁיבוּ אוֹתָם דָּבָר וְאֶת כָּל הָעֵדָה וַיַּרְאוּם אֶת פְּרִי הָאָרֶץ. (כז) וַיְסַפְּרוּ לוֹ וַיֹּאמְרוּ בָּאנוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר שְׁלַחְתָּנוּ וְגַם זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ הִוא וְזֶה פִּרְיָהּ. (כח) אֶפֶס כִּי עַז הָעָם הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּאָרֶץ וְהֶעָרִים בְּצֻרוֹת גְּדֹלֹת מְאֹד וְגַם יְלִדֵי הָעֲנָק רָאִינוּ שָׁם. (כט) עֲמָלֵק יוֹשֵׁב בְּאֶרֶץ הַנֶּגֶב וְהַחִתִּי וְהַיְבוּסִי וְהָאֱמֹרִי יוֹשֵׁב בָּהָר וְהַכְּנַעֲנִי יֹשֵׁב עַל הַיָּם וְעַל יַד הַיַּרְדֵּן. (ל) וַיַּהַס כָּלֵב אֶת הָעָם אֶל מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר עָלֹה נַעֲלֶה וְיָרַשְׁנוּ אֹתָהּ כִּי יָכוֹל נוּכַל לָהּ. (לא) וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עָלוּ עִמּוֹ אָמְרוּ לֹא נוּכַל לַעֲלוֹת אֶל הָעָם כִּי חָזָק הוּא מִמֶּנּוּ.

(26) And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. (27) And they told him, and said: ‘We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. (28) Howbeit the people that dwell in the land are fierce, and the cities are fortified, and very great; and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. (29) Amalek dwelleth in the land of the South; and the Hittite, and (30) And Caleb stilled the people toward Moses, and said: ‘We should go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.’ (31) But the men that went up with him said: ‘We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we.’

8ח

(א) וַתִּשָּׂא כָּל הָעֵדָה וַיִּתְּנוּ אֶת קוֹלָם וַיִּבְכּוּ הָעָם בַּלַּיְלָה הַהוּא. (ב) וַיִּלֹּנוּ עַל מֹשֶׁה וְעַל אַהֲרֹן כֹּל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם כָּל הָעֵדָה לוּ מַתְנוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אוֹ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לוּ מָתְנוּ.

(1) And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. (2) And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron; and the whole congregation said unto them: ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would we had died in this wilderness!

9ט

(א) וַיִּקַּח קֹרַח בֶּן יִצְהָר בֶּן קְהָת בֶּן לֵוִי וְדָתָן וַאֲבִירָם בְּנֵי אֱלִיאָב וְאוֹן בֶּן פֶּלֶת בְּנֵי רְאוּבֵן. (ב) וַיָּקֻמוּ לִפְנֵי מֹשֶׁה וַאֲנָשִׁים מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲמִשִּׁים וּמָאתָיִם נְשִׂיאֵי עֵדָה קְרִאֵי מוֹעֵד אַנְשֵׁי שֵׁם. (ג) וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ עַל מֹשֶׁה וְעַל אַהֲרֹן וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם רַב לָכֶם כִּי כָל הָעֵדָה כֻּלָּם קְדֹשִׁים וּבְתוֹכָם יְהוָה וּמַדּוּעַ תִּתְנַשְּׂאוּ עַל קְהַל יְהוָה. (ד) וַיִּשְׁמַע מֹשֶׁה וַיִּפֹּל עַל פָּנָיו.

(1) Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; (2) and they rose up in face of Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty men; they were princes of the congregation, the elect men of the assembly, men of renown; (3) and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them: ‘Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them; wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?’ (4) And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.

10י

Menachem Begin, Meeting of the Herut Political Party- 1949

(taken from The Prime Ministers, by Yehuda Avner)

“It [1944] was a year of unspeakable torment. Our sisters and brothers in Europe were being slaughtered in the millions. But Ben-Gurion insisted we join the Allies in defeating the Nazis before rebelling to expel the British from our land. My colleagues and I thought otherwise. Ben-Gurion was so hostile to our revolt he tried to squash it by unleashing his Hagana men to round up our fighters and hand them over to the British. It was madness. It was tearing Jews apart. I could smell the stench of civil war.

So I told our men to go quietly, not to resist. It was extremely hard to order our men to restrain their natural instinct for revenge, but I had to do it. I had to do it Ki Yehudim Anachnu!

Now hear this each and every one of you, and hear it well. I live by an iron rule: a Jew must never lift a finger against a fellow Jew, NEVER. A Jew must never shed the blood of another Jews, NEVER. Twenty centuries ago we faced the bitter experience of the destruction of the Second Temple, the destruction of our capital Jerusalem. And why? Because of our senseless hatred of each other, a hatred that led to civil war and to our otter ruin: bechiya ladorot- generations of tears. And, therefore, I long ago took a solemn oath that no matter the provocation, no matter the circumstances, I would never ever be a party to a civil war, NEVER!”

“History teaches us that on the heels of most wars of liberation, bloody civil strife almost inevitably breaks out. The fall of a regime resembles an earthquake, and an earthquake, even after it has spent itself, is often succeeded by a chain of subterranean aftershocks. Our Irgun revolt did, indeed, create aftershocks, at least in minds of our detractors. So much so the British predicted that on their departure, there would indeed be a Jewish civil war. It did not happen for the reasons I have already given. And because of those reasons we never indoctrinated our Irgun fighters to hate our political opponents. On the contrary, we impressed upon them that a day would come when they would be standing shoulder to shoulder in the battle for the Jewish State’s defense soldiers of a single Jewish army.

I did weep that night, however, for the Altalena. Why? I wept because there are fateful times when a choice has to be made between blood and tears. During our revolt against the British, blood had to take the place of tears. But at the time of the Altalena- Jew against Jew- tears had to take the place of blood. Far better for one Jew to shed tears from his heart than to cause many Jews to weep over graves.

I say to you tonight, G-d forbid that a decision of a democratically elected government of Israel shall ever be defied by force…It is thanks to this democracy…that we shall weather every storm, overcome every hurdle, and withstand every test, as we shall grow, with G-d’s help, from strength to strength. “