Netzavim/Vayelech – Eternal Unity

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The Beginning of this week’s double portion of Netzavim and Vayelech begins by stating, “You are all standing this day before the Lord, your God the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel,” (Devarim 27:9).

At the end of the first paragraph of the Medrish Tanchuma on this Torah portion, the medrish gives another interpretation of the first few words of the portion, “You are standing this day.”  Just as the day sometimes is bright and sometimes dark, so too you, when it is dark for you, in the future you will have an eternal light, as it and the children of Judah together; etc.” (Yirmiyahu 50:4). When they are all says, “and Hashem will be for you an eternal light” (Yeshayahu 60:19). When will this be? When all of you will be a singular society, as it says, “are alive, all of you, this day” (Devarim 4:4). It is the way of the world that when a person picks up a bundle of reeds it is not possible for anyone to break them all at once. But if you would pick up one reed at a time, even a baby can break it. And so you will find that the Jews will not be redeemed until they are a singular society, as it says, “In those days and in that time, says the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they grouped together then they will be able to accept Hashem’s Holy Presence. (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Medrish is depicting a time when all the Jews will unify together, but it sounds like true unification cannot come about unless it is for an ultimately permanent cause, i.e. the redemption of the Jewish people from exile with the coming of Moshiach, may he come speedily in our days. This will result in the Shechinah, The Holy Presence of Hashem, being focused permanently amongst us in our midst.

What constitutes deserving of redemption according to this medrish is unification, but the parable given to visualize the level of unification required is a lot different then what one would think should be. One would think that a better parable describing unification would be melding together myriads of particles of sand into one piece of glass, where everything is fused together as one. That is true unification! But it is not so, on the contrary glass is very fragile and easily breakable, meaning a utopia where everyone is exactly the same, all molded together in one melting pot is very fragile and unsustainable.  The message of the bundle of reeds is that Hashem wants every individual to remain unique, but with one purpose, to serve Hashem to the highest degree, which is beneficial to all of mankind. But only when each individual comes together with their own unique strengths and character for this one purpose will they be strong and unstoppable. Each individual alone is too weak to create this ultimate purpose, and it would seem that many individuals together are not strong enough to be able to create this unbreakable society, which is deserving of the eternal state of perfection. Only when we are all in it together will we be ultimately deserving of the final redemption, to constantly bask in Hashem’s Holy Presence, may we see the fruits of our yearning and labor speedily in our days!

We can take this message to heart as we enter into Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur when we say in our Shemone Esray at this time, “Let them all become a single society (aguda achas) to do Your will wholeheartedly.” An aguda, literally a bundle, is composed of several items bound together, like a lulav with the hadasim and aravos tied to it. In a humanistic sense, an aguda or society is made up of various diverse personalities, each of whom contributes his and her own best efforts to the common cause. Thus, we do not suggest that all human beings will be of identical stature, but that all will follow the lead of the Jewish people’s finest products in doing Hashem’s will.