Apathy or Action?

March 18, 2024

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, famously said: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” This statement, born from the depths of human suffering and resilience, is a powerful testament to the importance of action, and the refusal to remain passive in the face of injustice. Wiesel, who dedicated his life to advocating for human rights and reminding the world of the horrors of the Holocaust, understood profoundly the consequences of indifference. His words remind us that inaction and apathy can lead to the perpetuation of suffering and the erosion of human dignity.

The relevance of Wiesel’s quote extends beyond the historical context of his own life to the broader narrative of support for the State of Israel. Today, the Jewish state often finds itself at the center of geopolitical tensions, facing challenges that range from security threats to the rise of antisemitism globally. In this environment, the indifference of the international community exacerbates these challenges, leaving Israel and its people in a precarious position.

Supporting Israel, in this context, is an expression of refusing to be indifferent. It means actively participating in the preservation of a nation’s right to exist in peace and security. It involves recognizing the historical and ongoing struggles of the Jewish people and understanding the importance of solidarity in the face of adversity. Yet, support for Israel is not a modern exigency alone; it is deeply rooted in the biblical narrative itself.

The Bible recounts how, when King Cyrus of Persia ascended the throne, he issued a proclamation in support of the Jewish’s people return to their homeland. He declared that the Jewish people, exiled and scattered, could return to their native Israel and rebuild their holy Temple. 

Yet, when making this proclamation he knew that not all Jews would seize this opportunity, and hence, he encouraged those who stayed behind to at least support the endeavor:

Rashi, a revered medieval French commentator, explained that those who could not ascend to Jerusalem due to a lack of resources were encouraged to help in any way they could, including providing their brethren with the means to return and rebuild.

Remarkably, this spirit of support wasn’t limited to the Jewish people. Non-Jews, too, were encouraged to contribute, and they did. The Bible further tells us:

Rashi explains that “all the nations who were Israel’s neighbors assisted and strengthened the hands of the Jews with gold and silver and all these gifts in order that they be able to ascend to Jerusalem. All this the neighbors of the Jews did, besides what they [the Jews] themselves donated for the building of the Temple.” The entire community, regardless of faith, was called upon to ensure the successful rebuilding of the Temple.

Rashi’s interpretation underscores the depth and breadth of the community’s commitment to the restoration of the Temple. It wasn’t just the Jews who contributed; their neighbors, the non-Jews, also extended their hand in support. Support for Israel isn’t a task only for the Jewish community or for those physically present in the land. The restoration and strengthening of Israel is a collective responsibility that extends beyond the boundaries of faith or geography. 

So, what does this mean for us in our day? What can we learn from the collective effort of an ancient community to support the restoration of Jerusalem?

The message is clear and powerful: supporting Israel isn’t an endeavor reserved for the Jews. It’s a collective responsibility that we all share. Just as King Cyrus encouraged his subjects to help the Jewish people rebuild their temple, we, too, are called to support Israel today. Just as the diverse community of the ancient Persian empire came together to ensure the successful rebuilding of the Temple, we too, are called to unite in our support for Israel.

In a world where distances have been rendered meaningless by technology, our capacity to assist is even greater today than in the times of Cyrus. We can support Israel with our prayers, our advocacy, our tourism, our purchases, and yes, with our charitable contributions. Our individual contributions, no matter how small, collectively shape the narrative of the modern return.

And in a world where antisemitism is alarmingly on the rise and the very existence of Israel is challenged, demonstrating our support is more crucial than ever.

Israeli soldiers are risking their lives to protect us all from Islamic terrorism. But they need our help. Sign up for Israel365 Action to receive updates on how YOU can help fight Hamas and its supporters in the United States and around the world.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

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