Losing the labels: A lesson from Shwekey

Shwekey's visual is now. The Litvish, Hassidic and Modern Orthodox are all at home. The Bnei Brak yungerleit and the knitted kippah kollel guy are also confined to their homes. There is no difference between them.

Steven Genack

OpEds Religious Jews sit near the Ari'zal's tomb, Tzfat
Religious Jews sit near the Ari'zal's tomb, Tzfat
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One need only have watched Shwekey’s video to his song “Lo Yaavod” to be awakened to the reality of what’s happening now.

In the video, there is a screening machine with titles on top of it. Slowly, different types of Jews start to pass through the screen with the monitor on top identifying them; Modern Orthodox, Orthodox, Chabad, Conservative, Ultra-Orthodox (we really should stop using that negative sounding term and write haredi), Convert, Kippah Seruga, Smartphone Chassidic, Bar-Mitzvah Kippah, Traditional, Well-groomed Chassidic, Carlebach.

A person dressed in a piece of garb from several of these sectors passes through the machine and question marks appear on the monitor. Then there is a picture of all the types dancing together, and finally a shot of the monitor identifies everyone as “Yehudim.”

If I were the editor today of Shwekey’s video, I would add some more labels to bring home the point of where we stand. I would send through the machine great rabbanim, people learning in Kollel, millionaires, yeshiva students etc. We are now connected, with no arguments to be made. No one can argue now that we are all not equal. The Lakewood yeshiva student and the Modern Orthodox yeshiva student are both staying home. The Bnei Brak yungerleit and the knitted kippah kollel guy are confined to their homes. There is no difference between them.

There has never been a greater opportunity to love your fellow man by default. It’s almost been handed to us on a silver platter. There is total equality in the Jewish nation at this moment in time.

And It gets better. This confinement is taking place before Shabbos HaGadol and Pesach.
My great-great-grandfather asked the question of why we mention Yetizat Mitzraim every Sabbath during kiddush. It seems misplaced. He answered that Mitzraim, where G-d performed extraordinary miracles, offered man a proof that G-d was capable of performing the miracles of creation, only no one was there to see them at the dawn of time. The miracles of the creation of the world took place without the audience of man.

Those miracles happened, but they were hidden from us and we can see them as representing all the hidden miracles of life that visit us every day, like breathing, catching a good conversation with a friend, sharing a smile with your child or taking a refreshing walk outside. All of these miracles are there but we fail to acknowledge them. On the other hand, Yetziat Mitzraim showcased open miracles to our entire nation. These were out front for everyone to see. They proved that this is an Almighty G-d that was capable of creating a wondrous world.

Amazingly, these two types of miracles coincide in the next seven days. Shabbos, the symbol of hidden, but oh-so-present miracles during creation and Yetziat Mitzraim, symbolic of open miracles - meet each other. It’s a supernova of miraculous overlay.

After having time to contemplate this idea over this upcoming Shabbos, which, as mentioned, represents rest, pondering, internalization and the realization of the subtle supernatural, we can be ready for the cup of Elijah, Kos Shel Eliyahu on Pesach, the time of the open supernatural to play out,.

We will be ready to meet the moment referenced in the Shabbos HaGadol Haftarah where Malachi proclaims, “Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter destruction. Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. (Malachi 3:23-24). 

This reconciliation between parent and child is a metaphor to our ultimate connection to G-d which will only come if we now use the opportunity to lose the “labels.”



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