3 Shvat 5781 / Saturday, January 16, 2021 | Torah Reading: Va'era
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HomeIsrael and SocietyCurrent AffairsThe Curious Case of Nesha Ruther
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The Curious Case of Nesha Ruther    

The Curious Case of Nesha Ruther

Political opinions are no excuse to hate a single Jew. We can never write off one of our brothers or sisters because of their stand on abortion, gay rights, or any other issue…


G-d schooled me the other day. 


All I could feel was passionate indignation about how Nesha Ruther, a Jewish Student at the University of Wisconsin, became co-president of the Students for Justice in Palestine. Then, when I read about how later on, the Chabad Rabbi Mendel Matusof embraced her as she became a regular guest at his Shabbat table, I was pretty shocked. 


That's when Hashem told me to sit down and take notes. 


It was an article about how a secular girl went to college and decided we were wrong. She joined a fiercely anti-Israel group on campus and quickly became its leader.


That was when she started to explore Judaism. The Rabbi, who knew her from meetings she had with the student government about divesting from Israel, didn't know what to make of her joining the challah baking event. 


Following the dictates of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, that inside every Jew is a Divine spark, he welcomed her. They disagreed on many things. In the end, they agreed to disagree. 


Now Ms. Ruther goes to the Chabad House when she is not standing side by side with her Palestinian comrades. 


Just when I was about to vent my opinion on anyone who would listen, I felt this Divine Voice inside me. It said . . . 


You got a problem with that?


As I read the words, Hashem came close to me as if I were reciting Psalms. It was as if this story was not only non-repulsive in Hashem's eyes, it had a distinct holiness to it. I could feel Hashem's approval of this.


If these actions have a Divine stamp, what can we learn here?


Three important lessons. 


1. Political opinions are no excuse to hate a single Jew. We can never write off one of our brothers or sisters because of their stand on abortion, gay rights, or their feelings on what's happening in Israel.


We must see the good in them, period. There are no exceptions. There are no excuses. How far must we go to subdue our ego and subordinate ourselves to the trait of baseless love?


As far as Rabbi Matusof did in embracing the Jewish Leader of the Students for Palestine movement.


2. The power of repentance is THAT POWERFUL. Nesha Ruther went from being secular to attending Shabbat dinner. She makes Challah. She asks questions. She is making repentance. 


The brightness of the light of her repentance is so powerful that any perceived darkness, no matter how dark we may think it to be, is no match for the light that Nesha Ruther is bringing into this world. 


An act of return is so holy, so powerful, that even if a Jew walks into a room clothed in a PLO flag and wearing a Hamas headband, if they put on tefillin and say the Shema, they’ve had a good day. It's also a good day for all of Israel. Just don't try this at home, folks.


3. Unconditional love and teshuva are more Important than being pro-Israel. 


I volunteered for IDF duty, lived in a community in East Israel (the west bank), and am a proud citizen of Israel. I know the importance of giving everything you have to the Jewish State. 


Perhaps that's why Hashem had to school me.


Loving a Jew simply because he or she is a Jew trumps it all. So does an act of repentance, whether focusing a little more on our prayers, spending some extra time learning Torah, improving the manner in which we speak, or doing something for G-d that initially feels highly unpleasant.


The fate of Israel, the Palestinians, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, Europe, the UN, Donald Trump, the 2020 US elections, that's not for us to worry about. G-d has that all under control.


If a woman can be fiercely anti-Israel and yet have an open mind about and good feelings towards a Rabbi as well as do teshuva, just imagine what an impact people who are more Zionistic make when we bite our lips and do the same.  


Rabbi Matusof understood this; even Ms. Ruther gets it.


This is what will redeem Israel. This is what will bring the redemption and ultimately materialize the dreams of Nesha Ruther, Rabbi Mendel Matusof, you, me, and everyone on earth -- an Israel at peace with her neighbors once and for all in a world filled with absolute justice and kindness. 



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https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifDavid Ben Horin made Aliyah from New York in 2009. He developed http://www.abetterlifeinisrael.com/, a 5-hour, 20-video series which gives you day to day guidance on How to Enjoy a Better Life in Israel.

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