Blue and White: Shmuel Sackett

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Colors: Green Color

This past Shabbos, a person I didn’t recognize walked into my shul. I went over to him – as I try to do to all the guests – and said, “Shabbat Shalom and welcome to Herzliya! My name is Shmuel Sackett. Where are you visiting from?” His answer stunned me.

I remember it like it happened yesterday. The year was 1979 and I was studying in BMT – Bet Midrash L’Torah, in Jerusalem. It was time for our first tiyul, and our guide, Eli Horowitz, son of our Rosh Yeshivah, was leading the hike. (Sad note: 24 years later, Rabbi Eli Horowitz and his wife, Adina, were brutally murdered by Arabs. May Hashem avenge their blood.) Eli, who had not yet been ordained as a rabbi, was an amazing guide and told us to take water and a Tanach (Bible) for the tiyul.

People throw around the term “Jewish unity” all the time, but what does it mean and how do we achieve that important goal? Do we have to agree with everyone? Must we compromise our values and ideology to make room for our brothers and sisters? Should we cast aside all that is important to us in the name of unity? I have a two-letter answer to all those questions: N-O!

Recently, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, was summoned to a meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. This might not seem like a big deal to you – after all, he was simply asked to attend a meeting, right? Wrong! In the diplomatic world of ambassadors, being “summoned to a meeting” is the equivalent of being asked to see the principal in high school for something you did – not good!

While the overwhelming majority of Parshas Sh’lach (read last week in Israel and this week outside Israel) is about the sin of the spies, the last five verses deal with the mitzvah of Tzitzis and the famous blue thread called “t’cheiles”: “Speak to the children of Israel…that they shall make for themselves tzitzis on the corners of their garments…and they shall place upon the tzitzis of each corner a thread of t’cheiles (blue wool)…”

I was asked a simple question the other morning, just before davening: “Why doesn’t Israel just finish the job?” The question came from a dear friend who made aliyah from the United Kingdom close to eight years ago. He and his wife love their life in Israel and regret only one thing: not coming earlier. He admits that politics never interested him, and only recently has started following the tennis match of Israeli political viewpoints. Everybody he talks to tries pulling him in his ideological direction, and while he appreciates the education, he has become quite confused. So, what does one do when he is confused about Israeli politics? He speaks to me, and I confuse them even more!