When is a stranger not a stranger? When you find out that you’re related!
Scene 1: You’re waiting in line to take a sight-seeing cruise with your family. It’s a beautiful July day as you stand there, gazing out at the harbor. Out of the corner of your eye you notice a little boy run by. Was that a yarmulke on his head? Here in this remote little spot? You follow the yarmulke and see that it leads to a family – not quite like yours, but clearly Jewish. You wander over and strike up a conversation with total strangers. Why?
Scene 2: You’re driving down the highway one day, cruising along in the left lane, when you notice that all the way over on the shoulder of the road there is a car in distress. A Jewish family stands around the car as the father peers under the hood. You pull off at the next exit, make your way around, and ride up behind them on the shoulder. “Need some help?” you ask. You end up driving the wife and children to a rest stop while the father waits for assistance. Why?
Scene 3: You live in America. But when Jews are endangered, persecuted or attacked anywhere in the world, you speak about them as “we.” Why?
No matter how much divides us, deep inside we’re keenly aware of what unites us as one nation and one soul.
That’s why we pick each other out in crowds and inconvenience ourselves for each other’s benefit, even when we don’t know each other’s names. That’s why we feel so keenly the pain of other Jews of any type in any place when they’re persecuted for being Jews.
When we speak with shmiras haloshon we’re not only expressing this bond, but strengthening it. We’re saying, “I know him. He’s my brother. He’s OK!”