Guest Articles


 The Need for 
 Israelite Inter-Tribal Unity 

  Zippora Feld  

The history of our Israelite nation goes back through  the last 3816 years. Ever since our forefather Abraham was the first to discover that the world has a Creator and that for all things there is a reason and cause up until our own times many "experiences" have happened to our nation:
 The events in questions include: The blessings of Jacob given to each one of his twelve sons, slavery in Egypt, deliverance from bondage with great wonders and material spoils, the miracles in the wilderness, splitting of the Red Seal, victory over their enemies, and (greater than them all) receiving of the Torah that changed us to a chosen  nation but also in equal measure committed us to keeping the Law. Later developments entailed: Entering into the Land of Israel, wars, the Period of the Judges, doing the will of the Almighty and at times also rebellion against Him, the Temple and Exile, followed by a rebuilding of the Sanctuary and again Exile, only this time a long and painful one.
 From out of all this changing course of events, turbulences, and revolutionary developments there grew and developed the Jewish People of Israel that began to consolidate to itself an individual character and peculiarity of its own.  The Jews became a people that tried at times to be assimilated and to change into a nation "like all other nations " but never succeeded and never will as it had been predicted, "THE PEOPLE SHALL DWELL ALONE, AND SHALL NOT BE RECKONED AMONG THE NATIONS" [Numbers 23:9].
That is the starting point accompanying us throughout history. In every period, in times of prosperity and especially in hours of darkness we were always "THE PEOPLE SHALL DWELL ALONE", insulated and not connected.
 Let us return again to the blessings of Jacob to his sons. Each one received a blessing (some say counseling advice) that was specifically unique to himself, according to his individual propensities (Midrash Tanchuma, Genesis 44:18).
The Midrash mentions clearly the formidable powers of Judah and of Joseph, each one in his own way. The Blessings of Jacob also involve the last wish of Jacob, that there be unity amongst the Tribes: "GATHER YOURSELVES TOGETHER" [Genesis 49:1]. Jacob wished that his descendants be united and work together undivided. It is almost impossible to imagine the potential power and wonderful abilities that could be realized through unity working to a common goal.
An example of this potential is described in a Midrash that tells how the brothers of Joseph reacted in face of the refusal of the King of Egypt to release their brother.

[Joseph had been sold into captivity by his brothers into Egypt and become the plenipotentiary of the land. When the brothers came down to Egypt to buy grain Joseph met them but was not recognized by them. Joseph as far as the brothers were concerned represented the ruling power of Egypt. Joseph framed Benjamin on a fasle pretence, had him arrested, and announced his intention of keeping him as a slave. According to a Midrash the brothers of Joseph intended to go to war to release Benjamin and it was this willingness and fraternal devotion that effected a reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers. The Midrash in question did not necessarily intend to relate an historical fact but rather to illustrate a deeper truth ].

   The brothers of Joseph were prepared to fight for him utilizing a newly found spirit of unity that gave them a force of supernatural potential that could have resulted in the destruction of the Land of Egypt. Something of the formidable potential that stems from unity and the combined action of all the Israelite Tribes may be seen throughout our history beginning from when the Israelites entered the Land of Canaan and conquered it in the time of Joshua son of Nun and also today [amongst the Jews] in the Israeli War of Independence (1948) and resultant conflicts (1967, etc) that were fought for the sake of establishing and ensuring the survival of the State of Israel.
We also experienced the opposite effect when the tribes were divided and ignored their need for mutual help and the principle of reciprocity. Consequently adverse forces caused chaos, destruction and desolation. Much to our regret examples of this latter situation are not lacking and were often prevalent in the course of our development. Precisely as a result of this negative energy and lack of unity the Second Temple was destroyed as described in the Talmud. The Bible also tells us of fraternal strife and a war of the other Tribes against the Tribe of Benjamin (Judges chapters 19 - 20). This was caused because they had not tried hard enough to go in the way of the Almighty. They had not been receptive towards those who were not "one of themselves".
In our own days it is possible to see how much terrible are the results of disunity. The long lasting terror of the Palestinians against the Jews is a terrible situation in which our people are humiliated and disgraced at the hands of they who mock them and murder their children. It is a state of anarchy and debasement.  It is a result of confusion and lack of the knowledge concerning our goal and our role as the Jewish nation. There is a growing hatred against different sections of the Jewish people. On the one side we have they who acknowledge the Law of God and keep His commandments, who know to whom this country of milk and honey belongs and what must be done to purify it of the Arab foreigners who are intruders in it. On the other side there are those that do not attempt to go on the right path yet try to impose their own opinion on others and to handle matters only according to their own notions. We can see now how due to lack of unity we are needlessly diminishing our potency and weakening.
Let us look back in history, to the Land of Judah towards the end of the Second Temple Period when the Holy Sanctuary still stood in all its wondrous beauty: The nation was already divided into two sections as a result of controversy and pride. In this period the Jewish people, sons of the Almighty, began to sin. They were not hearkening to the voice of God. The enemy was sent to besiege them. This was the last warning sign from Above, a final chance for the nation to return to our Father in Heaven and to join together as brothers. Nevertheless, hatred and lack of mutual respect actually increased and God regretfully gave  approval for the cursed Romans to destroy our Temple, our source of Glory, the fountain of our Light and our Life, the House of the Almighty God. We were exiled from off our Land that cannot carry they who do not go in the way of the Almighty and keep His laws. 
We see here that the confusion and the sense of division had started to worsen. This had already become previously apparent when Judah and Joseph separated. The resulting antagonism between the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel had left its mark. The Ten subordinate tribes of the Kingdom of Israel had been cruelly taken out from their country and cast off into the distance. The connection between the Tribes had been loose from the beginning and finally it was disconnected completely.  The sundering apart was of great effect and the pain tremendous! Eventually the remaining Tribes of Judah and Benjamin were also to be thrown out into the domains of foreign inimical nations.
For their part the Ten Tribes of the former kingdom of Israel were wandering away, being assimilated, and losing their identity. They were becoming (willingly or by force of circumstance) like the nations around them. They were spreading out across into the corners of the earth. Finally they were to be found in every direction reaching into Western Europe, the British Isles, North America, and Australia. The Jews of Judah, in comparison, preserved their Jewish identity notwithstanding the suffering under the hard yoke of alternating Empires and cruel decrees.
Jewish Efforts for the return of our lost brothers:
 At this time when, thank God, after many troubles and hard sufferings we have returned finally to our Land and heritage and our Heavenly Father gathers us up and shelters us, we are securely enabled to reach out to our Lost Brothers and to return them to us. We may yet integrate once again our forces and prove to our forefather, Jacob, that we have not forgotten his final wish and we can yet come together. If we do this we will be risen up again and merit the embodiment of our promised redemption. Together with us so too will the entire world be redeemed. We were meant from the beginning to be a "light to the Gentiles" and to illuminate the way. Let us gather together again from the corners of the earth into one whole undivided nation!

[The above article has been loosely Translated from
a Preface to the Hebrew work, "Achim Acharim"]

A 17th Century Synagogue Representation of a Lion and Unicorn
representing Judah and Joseph in unification
lion and unicorn

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