A Barcelona medieval synagogue, some say the Rashba was the rabbi here.

I'm sitting down to write these words a few minutes after returning from the Golden Horseshoe, where I went with our two daughters. As I'm sure you know, two Jewish-owned businesses were vandalized for publicly expressing their support for Israel. I'm not going to focus of the content of the vandalism, which is only another expression of millennia old baseless antisemitism and hate.

Rather, today we'll focus on the community's response to it, which was beautiful to behold. It was a most visible glimpse into what makes the Jewish people so unique and special in our world. In the crowd, you didn't feel anger or negativity. You felt Jewish pride. There were kids walking around with ice cream, smiles all around and an overall calm, positive atmosphere, though there is obvious concern about the antisemitic vandalism. In a world where protests abound, often causing considerable destruction and pain to others, this protest of light was special to behold.

Let's pause for a moment and go back nearly 800 years to medieval Spain. Spain wasn't a unified country at the time, but was comprised of some six states. We'll zoom in on Barcelona, which was the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. In the late thirteenth century the leading rabbi of the city and its large, prosperous Jewish community, was Rabbi Shlomo Ben Aderet, known as the Rashba (רשב"א).

He was a great scholar who wrote one of the most prominent commentaries to the Talmud, and is known for having been attentive, focused and for getting right to the heart of things. While being an extremely busy man - Barcelona was one of the leading Jewish communities at the time - he would find the time to take a calm walk every day. When asked how he found the headspace for this, he would explain that whatever he did he focused on fully, without any distractions. During the rest of the day, he was always fully present and focused on the task at hand, so when the time to take a walk came he was able to be fully present and focused on the moment as well.

In the same vein, the Rashba used his sense of being present and getting the heart of things to highlight what the Jewish people were really about, and how they're so special. In a commentary to the Talmudic tractate of Brachot, the Rashba is quoted as saying that while the Jewish people were blessed with an abundance of spiritual endowments in the form of Judaism, the true Jewish miracle is the Jewish people themselves (free translation).

The story of the perseverance and goodness of the Jewish people is so incredible, that the greatest compliment one could possibly give to the Creator of the universe is, 'Look how special your people are'. It's G‑d's greatest source of pride.

The enduring miracle of the Jewish people is that the positivity therein is so natural, so strong and so enduring that you almost wouldn't know how much it cost to carry that positivity through the centuries, from the Rashba's Barcelona and on into the future.

In the words of Shmuel Hanavi, the prophet Samuel, 'וּמִ֚י כְעַמְּךָ֙ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל גּ֥וֹי אֶחָ֖ד בָּאָ֑רֶץ', 'And who is like Your people, like Israel, one nation in the world.'

Rabbi Avrohom