Rabbi Moshe Hauer: Let’s Build Together On What Matters

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Dear Friends,

We have each other and we must treasure each other.

For the nation that dwells alone and has had good reason to feel alone, Monday and Tuesday were days of incredible strength and hope. On both days, we rallied together in the hundreds of thousands and reminded ourselves that we are never alone because Hashem is with us and because we stand together with and for each other.

On the National Mall on Tuesday, it was reassuring to hear governmental and faith leaders speak with perfect moral clarity in support of our people. It made us feel less alone. But it was even more impactful to see the massive gathering of Jews and to stand with hundreds of thousands expressing our shared commitment to the future of Israel, to our ability to live without fear as proud Jews in America, and to the plight of our beloved brothers and sisters held hostage.

Monday was similarly impactful. While we could not see it with our own eyes, we knew that across our entire community people were dedicating extra efforts to tefillah, that shuls and schools everywhere were saying extra tehillim, and that in places like Brooklyn and Lakewood you would have to search to find a minyan that was not reciting the expanded tefillos of Yom Kippur Katan.

Both rallies were powerful. Both rallies demonstrated with intensity and feeling that every corner of our varied community has a powerful love of Israel and Judaism and a deep concern for the soldiers and hostages. They showed how the Jewish people today, after its most fractious year in memory, have pulled together to focus on what is most important to all of us.

Many thousands participated in both Monday’s Yom Kippur Katan and Tuesday’s DC March. Many thousands more participated in one and not the other, as some would not feel comfortable in the intensely Orthodox environment of the selichos minyan while others would not relate to a gathering with so many Jews and so little Torah. No matter. We should observe with deep satisfaction Klal Yisrael’s overlapping circles of profound care and unified focus.

That is what we must focus on, not the controversies surrounding the statements or decisions of specific rabbanim or organizations. We must learn from the bitter experience of the past year that when we focus on fighting with each other, we lower our guard and become dangerously vulnerable to the threats of our real enemies. The discussions of Klal Yisrael need to go back to where they were two weeks ago, exchanging ideas about the latest creative idea to strengthen Klal Yisrael spiritually or materially, to revive some of the chesed, chizuk and spiritual efforts that have lapsed after the initial energetic rush. We need to stop the internal politicking, the analysis and critique of this or that rabbinic or organizational position and speak instead of the wall-to-wall unity of purpose – if not of method – that we are experiencing. Every part of Klal Yisrael is precious and dedicated to the future of the Jewish people, both those who would not attend Yom Kippur Katan and those who would not attend the DC rally. Instead of maligning the communal treasure of Agudath Israel and its leadership, let’s focus on becoming a true agudah achas la’asos retzoncha b’leivav shaleim.

The Orthodox Union sits together with a wide variety of Jewish organizations at the communal tables of the Conference of Presidents and the Jewish Federations, the leading organizers of Tuesday’s rally. We can be at those tables courtesy of something known as the Schindler Doctrine, formulated by Rabbi Alexander Schindler of the Reform movement but critical to our Orthodox sensitivities, committing the Conference to focus entirely on issues that impact the material well-being of Jews and Jewish communities and avoiding religious issues where we cannot expect agreement. That mature understanding allowed us to come together to plan a historic rally that would not and could not be a religious event, but that would prove to be an important political effort to demonstrate support for Israel, the Jewish people, and the hostages across political parties, communities of faith, and individuals of influence and celebrity.

Our partners in leadership across the Jewish community understood the power of this moment. Painful as it was to leave Torah off the program, we all did so consistent with the principle that allowed us to be at that table to begin with, steering clear of areas where there are for now irreconcilable theological differences. But we shared an enthusiasm to make sure that this political event would prove to be an uplifting religious experience for the Jewish community that would make us all feel our connection to each other and to G-d. The moments of tehillim, the singing together of Esa Einei, Acheinu, Vehi She’amda, and the recitation of Shema were some of the precious moments that uplifted and unified one and all.

This was a week of true unity of purpose. We should savor that and build upon it. We have each other and we must treasure each other, all of us who were in shul on Monday or in DC on Tuesday. Let’s build together on what matters.

למען אחי ורעי אדברה נא שלום בך, למען בית ד’ אלקינו אבקשה טוב לך

Have a wonderful Shabbos.

Rabbi Moshe Hauer
Executive Director, Orthodox Union


    • There must be more to the story. No one randomly came over to you and your husband and called you Kapos for not attending to the rally. However, seeing you attack the general message of achdus becuase of what one person said to you I understand why that person feels that way about you

      • There is nothing more to the story, and this person knows my husband well so it was not random.

        I don’t believe groveling to the govt to support the Israeli govt. and to accept us will bring achdus. Instead we should call our representatives and tell them to stop funding terrorist organizations and the Israeli govt because they will only funnel the money to our enemies like they have done in the past.

  1. Let’s talk about not making mistakes going forward and not about the mistakes of the past

    Going forward the ou and other such organizations should not participate in such rallies

  2. Don’t know if I agree with this. On the one hand, I understand that machlokes amongst yidden is usually counterproductive when it is not about Halacha. But to make statements as found in this treatise is quite blasphemous. Equating the gathering in Washington with the observance of Yom Kippur Koton is a frightening thing to hear from a Torah (albeit political) organization. And to explain it away by telling us that these will not “feel comfortable” and those will not “relate” is even worse.

    So I don’t know…

    • I read between the lines and took it to mean that there may be shomer shabbos people who are more to the left or more modern who have never been to a yom kippur katan tefillah before, more out of ignorance, rather than lihachis. I can hear why someone who has never been part of it would feel uncomfortable maybe not knowing what to say. Of course it would be best if they would get over that initial discomfort so that they could join the tzibur and maybe some day they will. But he couldn’t say that outright as they might take it that he is belittling them for not being so knowledgeable. He needs to be politically correct representing an organization like the OU. He can’t alienate people and cause even less achdus at a time like this. I really didn’t read it to mean that whichever one a person chose to attend, they are both considered equally important b’einei Hashem. Rather that, for those not there yet, at least they had a place to go where they felt comfortable and a part of klal yisroel and were doing their hishtadlus in a way they knew how to.

    • I’m inclined to agree with you.

      While I don’t have anything against anyone who went, surely this was what our gedolim warned years ago against Zionism. It was an Israel with no God. It was our Holy Land with no Torah.
      It wasn’t just some people who sadly aren’t connected to Torah and Miztvos as individuals.
      It was, ‘Lets make a gathering of Israel supporters and specifically leave out any mention on any God and Torah’
      This isnt about blaming those who were behind this event. The vast majority sadly have no connection to Torah and Miztvos. The question here is should those who know that Eretz Yisroel is specifically the land of Hashem, who knows from the Tochacha that the land spits us out if we aren’t connected to Torah and Miztvos, are we meant to be actively involved in this event. I can see why many would have a serious issue with it.

  3. Even better, they could have influence the organizers to change the program to include speakers (not necessarily Rabbis) who spoke words of Torah. A lost opportunity to inspire hundred of thousands of Jews to observe more mitzvos and learn Torah.

    • Why didn’t you go and offer such wonderful words of chizuk. Chizuk for growth in Torah, Mitzvos, Masim Tovim other chasadim. Instead you complain that others didn’t do it.


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