Published Date: September 30, 2019
This week’s music: Yehudah Katz V’hamagal “Libi”
What is the definition of “unity?” Here are some excerpts from Webster’s dictionary definition.
“the state or fact of being united or combined into one, as of the parts of a whole; unification; oneness of mind, feeling, HARMONY, or agreement”
Here we are standing at the threshold of a new year. It seems to me that we are a lot like the “B’nai Yisarel” of this week’s “parshah, Netzavim,” who were standing at a different threshold, waiting to take the first steps into “Eretz Israel.”
Then, Moshe Rabeinu, in the name of Hashem, clearly tells us, “You are standing here today, all of you…” and he lists various groups of people, men women, children,… with the following closing statement,
“… from the woodcutter to the water carrier.”(Devarim 29.9-10) No one is left out. Every one of us counted in. Each one of us equally important, playing the role that was appointed to us as individuals. As the Baal Shem tov understood these verses in the Torah, what do we know about “the others?” How can we judge their contributions to our people and the world? Those who are scholarly lift us up from one perspective, while those who sing a simple sweet melody can lift us up to places that our scholarship never taught us about.
So how can we actualize the getting ready at the threshold of a new year. How can we find ways to bring out that equality among us?
The situation in our holy country has become very difficult to accept, yet is painfully obvious. There are too many among us that are comfortable creating a hateful and critical divide between us, which does not need to exist. The lines have been drawn and the public has clearly been influenced by the hateful statements from all directions. True leaders who want to bring about true peace don’t ridicule each other, especially brothers and sisters, but rather find respectful ways to build bridges. They don’t profess a unity against them, but rather a unity for all of us.
Certainly there are things that I do that you may find to be an obstacle to peace. There are decisions that you make that could potentially put us all in danger. There are behavior traits that are simply unacceptable in my world. There are mantras of spirituality that you may find offensive. They all take a very distant backseat to the need to eradicate hatred between us and work individually and collectively towards an ultimate relationship of unconditional love between us.
So when we talk of “unity,” we must remember that we have no choice. We need to live together we need to search for and find some common ground by which we will continue to grow together. We can’t allow ourselves to live like politicians or even listen to their rhetoric about who they will sit with and who they won’t. That’s not “unity.” Unity, as defined by Webster, is living in harmony. To do that I need to give up some of my self-interests, even if it is difficult for me to swallow. I need to do it for the good of “all parts of the whole.”
Politics all too often leads us to live by our own self interests. The only time politicians seem to get together is when it serves those self-interests or if God forbid, we are at war. Then suddenly everyone is united. That “unity” against the enemy is not the way that we will further our goal of becoming a peaceful loving nation, a people who are shining light out for the entire world to see. Make no mistake. Everyone in the world is looking at us. We are less than 1/3 of 1% of the world population and yet we are consistently in the headlines more often than any other people. The world is waiting for us to fix it and we are fighting with each other based on political opinions. The only factor stopping peace for being actualized is our not getting along. We need to rise above the hatred and create a special space for unconditional love.
One point that I find very comforting in all of the years which I have been blessed to live here, periodically a survey is run by the media about all of our commitments and beliefs. The number of people who express a belief in God is always astounding. More than 80% of our Jewish brother and sisters express a belief in a higher source. Each of us relates to that Godliness in his/her own way. I would like to share that from my small perspective this is the time of year when we feel that God is close. As the prophet Yishayahu teaches us “dirshu Hashem b’himatzo, krauhu b’hiyoto karov,” seek God where you can find him, call out to Him when He is close (Chapter 55). This for me is the time to reach out to God and cry. Cry tears because I want to fix, not tears of despair because I am frustrated that you won’t accept my opinion. Cry with the belief that of Hashem hears and sees that we are sincere, if He knows that we have arrived in His presence “to listen to the shofar.” As the blessing is recited immediately before sounding the shofar, “as you sanctified us with the mitzvoth and commanded us to listen to the shofar.” “Kol Hashofar,” the voice of the Shofar as is stated as we stood together as One at Mount Sinai and the voice of the shofar was very strong. Moshe spoke and God answered his voice (Shmot 19.19).
May we all be blessed to be moved to tears of awaken and caring this Rosh Hashanah, to recognize that it is the voice of God speaking to us and that it moves each of us to find the one point that can help bring us together in true unity and harmony as we were when we stood together at Sinai.
Shabbat Shalom and Shanah Tovah U’mtukah
Blessings for a sweet year for all of us, with no exceptions.