I was volunteering this past Shabbat again in a hospital. The patient was of one denomination, the doctor from another, and the camaraderie in the Bikur Cholim was contributed to by Jews from every stripe and hue. In the warming oven was the delicious food from the Ladies of Satmar Bikur Cholim who know how to stock an apartment and Bikur Cholim room for every comfort and helpful item that someone with a loved one in a hospital would need (for a partial rundown: snoods, aspirin, food, reading material, etc). Also in the warming oven was the Sefardic food for the folks from Flatbush who just would not want our chulent and gefilte fish. An ingathering of the exiles but without the redemption yet.
Tragedy is a great equalizer. It brings together our nation, unfortunately, in ways that nothing else does. Before the Holocaust there was a shidduch crisis, and then, when the Nazis were done with us, Shidduchim took place with an open mind. Chassidim with Litvaks, those from privileged homes with the shoemakers’ children and on and on. And because of that tragedy, our nation rebuilt, because we realized we must pull together to continue.
I was in the hospital again this Shabbos, lamenting that we don’t yet know how to get along this well in times of health and propserity. Why, my people, why can’t we find other things to bind us together and to bring our love overflowing, other than tragedy?
to read one of my favorite articles of Satmar Bikur Cholim, read here: http://www.jewishworldreview.com/jonathan/marks_satmar.php3