Shavuot: Israel's strength is through its diversity - opinion

  (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

When the Jewish people accepted the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai it is said that they were like one individual with a single heart.

This weekend, we will celebrate the holiday of Shavuot, and the occasion, when thousands of years ago, the 12 tribes of Israel gathered together at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive a precious gift from God, the Torah.

Then, as now, each tribe was diverse. Each was unique in its own right, with its own talents, its own flag, its own traditions and lineage, and its own tribal mission. Then, as now, there were various opinions, and an array of political views. However, as the people surrounded the mountain, all differences were firmly placed to one side so that they could receive their destiny and become a nation, united in history and identity.

An important lesson can be learned from our ancestors who stood around Mount Sinai, because today it seems as though we have largely forgotten to appreciate our diversity, or to recognize that we draw much of our strength from our differences and not only from our similarities and shared identity.

Instead, today we witness the belittling of difference, and the berating of communities for being “other.” Recently, and ashamedly, we have observed media personnel in Israel go as far as to use antisemitic tropes against their fellow brothers. We cannot, and should not, accept this abhorrent behavior.

Continuing down this treacherous path of “us vs them” is a recipe for our own disaster. It is up to us all to unite and stop this polarization and dehumanization in its tracks before we reach the point of no return.


We know from history that infighting and baseless hatred twice caused our temple to fall, and twice resulted in Jewish exile from the land of Israel. History has taught us that infighting is perilous for our people and poses a serious existential threat. We are not immune.

Infighting is an existential threat for the Jewish people

When the Jewish people accepted the Torah at the foot of Mount Sinai it is said that they were like one individual with a single heart. It seems we are only complete when we come together, like a song with many notes, melodies and harmonies. Like any partnership, our differences, far from being a weakness, are our strengths. Our varying talents serve to complement one another, and most importantly fortify our nation against very real external threats.

As we approach the holiday of Shavuot, we realize that our most precious inheritance is not only God’s gift of the Torah, but also our historical and unbreakable bond to each other. Every single one of us has a special role to play in the future of our people.

This year is particularly significant because we are privileged to celebrate the modern day miracle of 75 years of the state of Israel, a phenomenon which follows thousands of years of desperation and exile. Remembering that all Israel is responsible for one another, notwithstanding our differences, will ensure our nation’s continued prosperity so that future generations can celebrate the next 75 years.

Chag Shavuot Sameach.

The writer, an MK, is a senior member of the ruling Likud party. He is chairman of the World Likud and served as Israel’s 17th permanent representative to the United Nations.