When Hamas won the Palestinian election, I studied the op-ed, opinion and editorial pages of Haaretz, the left-wing, intellectual newspaper. Among those of my world, here in Tekoa and Yerushalayim, few, if any read Haaretz. I do and not because it reflects my tastes and opinions and affirms my belief. I need to to be as connected to modern Israel as well as to the Holy Land, and extend beyond the comfrortable and familiar American/Shlomo/Yishuv religious world.

Who are the Israelis, who are my brothers and sisters who live in Kfar Sava and Ofakim, in Haifa and the kibbutzim, in the Galil and in the Negev? What do they think, feel and believe? What information is coming to them and how is it expressed? What are their assumptions and presumptions and what is the societal conditioning that shaped their views and conceptual framework? I also want to know and understand those whose entire outlook and frame of reference is apparently, so opposite mine.

Haaretz gives me much of this. I’ve learned things about Israel that are critical pieces to my own puzzle of ‘figuring it out’ without which, I would be almost impoverished. Reading it over the years has not neccessarily changed or altered my beliefs, but it has surely educated and challenged my thinking.

One of the op-ed articles was written by HaRav Menachem Frohman, the Rav of Tekoa, my village in the high Judean desert, due south of Yerushalayim and within view of the Dead Sea. It is one of the communities Olmert plans to give to our cousins. Everyone was writing about whether to deal with Hamas. Do you talk one who wont recognize you? Do you respect the choice of the electorate? And many more such questions. We all know of the choice the Israeli government made, as well as most of the rest of the world.

Rav Frohman is an anomaly. He is the Rav and resident of a ‘right-wing settlement’ and he begs us to talk to them. And indeed, he has! He has sat with Sheikh Yassin and participated in Sulha’s – traditional Arab reconcilliation ceremonies and gatherings. He doesn’t fit in anyone’s ‘box’. For him it’s not about politics. This is a religious struggle and can only be solved by believers. Hamas agrees with him and respects him, while they don’t trust or respect the politicians with their scheming under the influence of nations operating under their own agendas and interests. Further for him it’s not about national boundaries, security arrangements, competing claims and sovreignty. For Rav Frohman, it’s about the sons of Abraham who serve the One G-d to get beyond all this and live together within G-d’s Revelation.

That’s the best way I can capsulize it in a few words. Of course, his vision is infinitely expanded, more reasoned and explicated. I tried to find it through Haaretz’s search engine and Google, but failed. Doind a Google search using his name, you can find other articles and interviews with him. It’s worth the effort.

There was an decent size uproar about his piece. That Shabbat was Parsta Bo ; Bo El Paroh – Go To Pharoh. We walked together a bit and I said that it had occurred to me that the message was clear: If HaShem says to go and talk to Paroh, why can’t we talk to Hamas? It’s just a question of what our message is, how we represent it and how we with live and stand with it. He responded that the synchronicity of the issue and the portion of the week and it’s message, never occurred to him. It tickled him and I suspect affirmed his instincts and vision.

Reb Shlomo told a Jewish Renewal group in February, 1994, eigth months before he left the world, that if the AMshinover Rebbe would deal with our cousins, everything would be different. The high Rebbe’s, of which the Amshinover is the last, spoke from the Etz HaChaim – the Tree of Life. He said that the Etz HaDa’as – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, has no dominion over the Etz HaChaim.

What would I say to ‘them’? I have no idea. I can’t imagine how I could come to a mutual understanding with them that does not compromise my knowing that the Land of Israel was given in its entirety to the Jewish People for eternity. And we are all better off it not being up to me. But I do trust people like Rav Frohman and certainly the Amshinover. And they are far from being alike outside of the both serving HaShem Echad in truth, the most refined and profound humility, the highest Love of Israel, the Jewish People, indeed the world.

I bless us all to somehow and someway, learn to speak with those with whom it is most difficult and maybe, most critical and bring a little peace to the world. Shabbat Shalom

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