Ahavas Yisrael is a central theme of the Shavuos story.
In the most dramatic event in the Jewish tradition, the entire Jewish people gather around Mount Sinai as they received the Torah. There’s a well-known textual nuance – it says that the “people camped around the mountain” in the singular – a sign that the people were totally united.
Unity is praiseworthy. Ahavas Yisrael is wonderful. Love is precious.
But, like everything else in the Torah, Ahavas Yisrael must be performed correctly. Unfortunately, our community is not perfect, and there are those amongst us who do wicked, unspeakable things. All too often, this sense of Ahavas Yisrael is misplaced as credible reports of horrific abuse are dismissed.
When stories about appalling exploitation emerge, people don’t want to believe that their neighbor, their business associate, their friend from shul, could do such horrible things, and so they bury their heads in the sand rather than confront the truth. Instead, people tell themselves that Jews must stick together. In doing so, they totally disregard the agony of the victims and pave the way for more abuse to happen in the future.
Ahavas Yisrael is only good if it protects the weak, and prevents people from being hurt. The moment that Ahavas Yisrael is used as a cover for sick abuse, then it becomes a dangerous deception. As much as it may go against your instincts, we have an obligation to show abusers zero tolerance.
It’s time to create genuine Ahavas Yisrael. Genuine Ahavas Yisrael means standing up for the victims. Genuine Ahavas Yisrael means recognizing the evil in our midst and doing everything we can to wipe it out. Genuine Ahavas Yisrael means showing compassion for those who have suffered, and giving it our best to prevent future abuse.
This Shavuos, let’s show some real achdus and stand together to put an end to child sex abuse. Be a voice for those without one, stand with survivors today!