Letters to the editor: Hillel, Shammai and Mashiach

A recent story in the Light that the Israeli Chief Rabbinate refused a Jewish convert aliyah because his Canadian Orthodox conversion was not Jewish enough reminds me of earlier disputes between R. Hillel and R. Shammai, also Jew against Jew. The disputes between these two rabbis of stature on halachic and ethical topics has traditionally been characterized as for the sake of Heaven. A few tzadikim notwithstanding, the human imperfection of most places our holiest intentions at risk for injection of self into our thinking. We are incapable of a totally for the sake of Heaven argument; merely striving to do so in study and mitzvoth.

To judge disputes between Jews by singularly asking if they are only for the sake of Heaven then becomes irrelevant, better replaced by do they hasten the arrival of Mashiach. The only outcome from disputes between two Jews, imperfection judging imperfection, is either concession or continued strife, Heaven forbid both.

In distinction, every prayer, every mitzvoth performed in the merit of the arrival of Mashiach will be for the sake of Heaven; G-D is the judge of our intent and actions with love and forgiveness.

Ahavas Yisrael is a Torah commandment; its violation destroyed the Second Beis Hamigdash, and is why aliyah even exists. Failure to acknowledge this prolongs our bitter exile and the arrival of Mashiach, may that day be soon and in our time.

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Yankel Ber Stoliar

Jerusalem, Israel and St Louis