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    “You are insane!”
    Those were the words
    Rav Asher Weiss Shlit”a
    used to greet me when I
    visited him this week
    and shared that we had a
    group of 70 people from
    BRS who had come to spend Yeshiva Week in
    Israel. He continued that anyone visiting
    Israel right now, anyone flying into a country
    at war, is insane.
    In a few weeks it will have been two years
    since Russia invaded Ukraine. In that time, six
    million Ukrainians have fled to Europe, but do
    large groups of Ukrainians from around the
    world come to visit Ukraine? How many have
    come on solidarity missions to bring supplies,
    to visit army bases, to sponsor barbecues, to
    hug displaced families?
    “And so, you and the many who have come
    to visit Israel during this war are simply
    insane,” said Rav Asher. “But it is a
    magnificent insanity, a beautiful insanity, an
    insanity driven by love and loyalty, by
    connection and community, by a sense that we
    aren’t just a people, we are a family and
    family doesn’t run away from trouble, they
    are willing to run towards it.”
    Of course, in truth there is nothing insane
    about visiting Israel right now. It feels not just
    safe but tremendously meaningful, moving,

    and one truly appreciates that visits make a
    difference. I don’t take for granted for a
    moment the privilege of spending time in
    Israel during this monumental, historic, and
    critical time.
    There are many legitimate reasons not to be
    able to visit Israel during this time. Not
    everyone can take off from work. Those with
    young children and those who are responsible
    for taking care of aging parents cannot travel
    or be far away. The expense of flying and
    finding a place to stay is significant and the
    relationships and connections needed to craft
    a productive and meaningful itinerary are not
    available to all. And so, there are many
    legitimate reasons that people can’t stop what
    they are doing during this war and come to
    But here is the thing. There is no legitimate
    reason for every member of our precious
    Jewish people not to feel with every fiber of
    their being that they want to go to Israel right
    now, that they are drawn to the beautiful and
    magnificent insanity of running to be with our
    family in Israel at this moment: for them, for
    ourselves, to honor our history, and to together
    forge our destiny.
    As this war continues to rage, as the danger
    of it expanding to a northern front increases,
    as hundreds of thousands of families remain
    displaced, as funerals and shivas of soldiers

    are tragically still taking place, as hospitals
    and rehabilitation facilities remain full of
    thousands fighting to recover and resume
    life, as the economy continues to be
    compromised by a massive dip in tourism,
    and as too many in the world are working to
    marginalize and isolate Israel, every member
    of our sacred family should be drawn to our
    home, should feel the powerful force of the
    magnetic pull to be with our people, to be in
    our place, to be part of this sense of purpose.
    It shouldn’t be hard to want to go to Israel
    right now; it should be hard not to, it should
    feel impossible to stay away, it should hurt to
    not be there, to not be counted and to not be
    Rav Michael Yammer, the Rosh Yeshiva of
    Shaalvim, told me about a call he received
    from a talmid of the Yeshiva who was in Gaza.
    Anxious and upset, the young man had gotten
    access to a special phone from his captain to
    be able to call his rebbe to tell him that he had
    decided to put his role as a husband and father
    ahead of being a soldier and that pending
    permission from his rebbe, he was requesting
    to leave the Gaza battlefield to go home.
    Sensing that something had happened, Rav
    Yammer asked him what changed, why was
    he feeling this way? The young man said that
    just a few hours earlier, a dear friend and
    fellow soldier had been killed in fighting and
    he now felt he just couldn’t go forward with
    the feeling that his family might lose their
    husband and father.
    Rav Yammer told him there is a conflict
    taking place between your head and your
    heart, between what you are thinking and
    how you are feeling. Come home for a couple
    of days, speak to your wife and come with
    her to meet me to explore if you think your
    head can rein in your heart, if what you
    believe can sway and control how you feel.
    Rav Yammer challenged him, in this moment,
    can you set aside your being an ish perati, am
    individual person, to serve as an ish ha’kelal,
    a person who is devoted to the greater good?
    Can you put what is right for am Yisrael
    ahead of what is right for you or your family?
    If you can’t, that is completely understandable
    and acceptable and not subject to anyone’s
    judgment, but consider it thoroughly, be true
    and honest with yourself.
    The next day, the couple cancelled their
    appointment with him explaining they had
    been up all night discussing and had reached
    a conclusion. With his wife’s support, he was
    determined to continue to be an ish ha’kelal,
    a person who was dedicated to the greater
    good of his people. His head could and
    would rule his heart, his commitment and
    belief would be stronger than his fear, and he
    and his feelings were going back in to fight
    and defend his greater family, the Jewish
    Israel is filled with anshei ha’klal right now,
    ordinary people with extraordinary
    commitments to serve something bigger than
    themselves, and they are making tremendous

    sacrifices as they do so. While fatigue has set
    in for too many, soldiers cannot afford to tire,
    their wives and families have to continue to
    pick up the slack, a nation whose citizens are
    at most one or two degrees of separation from
    October 7 victims, or soldiers who have paid
    the highest price since then, has to live with
    trauma and grief it hasn’t yet had time to
    process or experience.
    This war is and will be won by a country of
    individuals putting aside their individual
    needs, wants, and well-being to serve the klal,
    the greater community and people. Soldiers
    are risking their lives on the front lines.
    Families are filling in while loved ones are
    way from home for prolonged periods.
    Volunteers, many of whom don’t sleep for
    days at a time, are cooking, delivering,
    serving, supporting, and supplying. A nation
    is davening and learning with greater
    diligence, determination, and dedication than
    ever before. People who have been far away
    from mitzvos and spirituality are experiencing
    an awakening and pledging to take on
    practices outside of their previous experiences
    and comfort zones.
    Not everyone who lives outside of Israel can
    go right now but every one of us should feel
    that we want to, should work to plan to, should
    find a way to not do what is best for us or even
    just for our families, but to prioritize what we
    can do for our collective future, for the good
    of our people.
    Even if we can’t physically be in Israel, our
    focus, consciousness, and compass can be
    connecting us constantly to Israel and to the
    sacrifices our brothers and sisters are making
    there. We cannot and must not be tone deaf or
    disconnected, acting as anshei prat, individual
    people, practicing, posting, speaking and
    living as if there isn’t a war raging, heroic
    angels aren’t being killed, hundreds of
    thousands aren’t grinding through the grueling
    reality of being displaced for many months.
    Before planning, posting, or doing anything
    during these difficult days, ask yourself, is this
    the behavior of an ish ha’klal, someone
    connected with our greater people? How
    would this picture, this comment, or this
    message, be seen or understood by those I
    claim to care about going through something
    we cannot begin to truly comprehend? How
    can I put my personal, individual instinct or
    need aside and use my time, energy, resources
    and attention to serve, contribute and put the
    family first instead?
    In this critical time, ask yourself simply, how
    will you be magnificently and beautifully