Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
Singer Aviv Gefen came for a television interview regarding the protest of performing artists over the corona ban on their appearances. Instead of discussing that issue, Aviv suddenly provided, in tears, a headline on a completely different matter. During the corona crisis, he appeared at the outdoor Amphi Shuni amphitheater, without a crowd, in a live broadcast, and dedicated a song, with love, to the residents of Bnei Brak who were absorbing ugly attacks at the time since some of the city’s residents had violated lockdown measures.
“I leave the stage,” Aviv related, “and I see on my telephone, without exaggeration, 420 messages. I start opening them, scrolling, and learn that someone had given my number to all of Bnei Brak. And I cried. And I could not leave the empty amphitheater. I started to cry. The love, the division in the nation, suddenly everything came together. The love I received came from people I had denigrated since I was 19. People who now erupted with love and with tears. ‘Thank you so much Aviv for thinking of us,’ I read. I was sitting on the stairs, the amphitheater was empty, and was I reading the messages and crying. At four in the morning, the theater staff got me up and told me: ‘Go home.'”
The interviewer Dana Weiss wondered why Aviv cried then, why he was crying now, and he answered: “For years we learned how to hate the other. ‘He’s religious, he’s secular.’ I, too, was a soldier in this game. Suddenly I saw the other. So how did the corona change me? Just like this: I learned to respect. A flame of love, simply amazing, was lit. I cannot even describe it in words, only in tears.”
This coming Thursday evening will mark the festival of Shavuot. Our sages write that we stood at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah “as one person, with one heart”. Different bodies that knew that they were one soul, one human tapestry. But this is not just ancient history. This is our natural state to which we are meant to return.