We all know the feeling of being under siege.
It may be as innocuous as being the only vegetarian at the family reunion dinner, as disquieting as being the only member of your gender in a crowded elevator, or as terrifying as being herded into a room with the rest of the embassy staff by masked gunmen. These scenarios share little in common, except for the situation of finding yourself part of a distinct group of people who are outnumbered or otherwise overwhelmed.
An interesting thing happens in these situations: we begin to feel a kinship with our fellow besieged. People who ordinarily would not interest us in the least become our brothers and sisters, an attack on them becomes an attack on us.
The 10th of the month of Tevet is a fast day. On this date 2448 years ago, the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. This led to the destruction of the Holy Temple and our exile.
Coming under siege is a horrible experience. A literal siege brings famine, plague, and bloodshed. Beneath all the negativity, however, lies the liberating and empowering realization: We're in this together! It brings to light a truth that was always there but which we had hitherto been prevented from or avoided seeing — the truth that we are all one.