This week, the United Arab Emirates hosted an international judo competition in its capital, Abu Dhabi (The Abu Dhabi Grand Slam). The participants from Israel arrived a day late, due to delays in obtaining the proper visas. They were also barred from wearing markers or flag patches that identified their home country (a ban that was placed on no other nationality) and the Israeli national anthem “HaTikvah” was not to be played at any point during the tournament. On Friday, Israel’s Tohar Butbul defeated UAE’s Rashad Almashjari in the first round. Following the match, Almashjari refused to shake Butbul’s hand, as is the custom after matches. Butbul went on to win the bronze in his weight class. The previous day, Israel’s Tal Flicker won the gold medal in the under 66 kg. category. While on the podium, the event organizers refused to display the Israeli flag or play the anthem. Instead, they displayed the International Judo Federation’s flag and played the federation’s anthem. While the federation’s anthem was playing, you can see that Flicker is mouthing something to himself. He later told reporters that he was singing his national anthem, “HaTikvah.”
This week, we read Parshat Lech Lecha. Avram is famously told to leave his home and go to “the Land (HaAretz) that I will show you/אל הארץ אשר אראך.” And then, God promises Avram, “I will make you a great nation/ואעשך לגוי גדול.” The Chernobyler Rebbe connects this to another Biblical verse, “At that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him with one accord/כִּי אָז אֶהְפֹּךְ אֶל עַמִּים שָׂפָה בְרוּרָה לִקְרֹא כֻלָּם בְּשֵׁם ה' לְעָבְדוֹ שְׁכֶם אֶחָד.” The Chernobyler explains that when we join with the other nations of the world and worship God with our physical (Artziut/ארציות) and bodily actions (מעשינו הבהמיות) then we can remove evil from this world, which is why it says that “the wolf will live with the lamb.” The Chernobyler is teaching us that when we live physically on this earth and in contact with other peoples, we will rub up against each other. And the hope, is that we rub off on each other; that people come to see us for who we are and come to worship the God that is One and that unites.
Flicker used his Judo to remind people of how great our nation is. He wrestled, he won, and then he extended his hand. Flicker said that he sang the anthem because he is “proud of his country and proud to be an Israeli.” He then added, that “the whole world knows that we are from Israel and who we are representing.” It is our role to help God fulfill the promise made to Avram. We must continue to wrestle with those that would deny us our national identity. And we must continue to reach out and grasp hands with those that are around us. The drive for unique national expression and the constant urge for peace among the nations is what will make us a great people.
 This is reminiscent of a similar incident that took place at the 2016 Olympics
 Gen. 12:1
 Gen. 12:2
 Rabbi Menachem Nochum Twersky of Chernobyl (born 1730, Norynsk, Volhynia - died 1787, Chernobyl, Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth) was the founder of the Chernobyl Hasidic dynasty. He was a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, and published one of the first works of Hasidic thought.
 Zeph. 3:9
 Me’or Einayim, Parshat Lech Lecha
 Isa. 11:6
Rabbi Ezra Balser has been the rabbi at Temple Beth Sholom since July 1, 2016. He received his “smicha” (ordination) in June 2017 from Hebrew College while also earning a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies. He has also received the iCenter's Certification in Israel Education.