Though a Sefer Torah is composed of hundreds of thousands of individual letters, each set apart from the other, they equal one Torah. The Torah is only kosher and complete when not a single letter is missing thus making the Torah whole.
The lesson we learn from this is every Jew is a complete world and has been given a specific task to accomplish from our Creator. We are responsible for fulfilling our G-d-given task to the best of our abilities. It is ours to do and we must do all when can to do it.
Conversely, each Jew is part of the Jewish people. We are not only a part of the Jews of our time but of all the generations of Jews from the beginning to the end of time.
Each of us is an integral part of our people and the good of our people is greater than our own personal well-being. Klal Yisrael, the whole of Israel, grants to each Jew a great privilege and responsibility.
If we are to function like a healthy people, we must live both independently and interdependently. To live interdependently requires vulnerability and honesty. It’s easy to avoid the potential hurt that comes from lowering our guards but we would then miss the connectivity that is ours as Jews.
A part of the problem from my perspective is the infighting among us over matters that can be dealt with in more loving ways. We seem to get hung up on the externals and myopic points of law and preference, thus forgetting that we are one family.
My dear friend, Rabbi Lynne Goldsmith, sums it up nicely: “To me, the noun, Jews, is what counts, not the adjectives, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, etc.” I realize that statement alone will cause some of my readers to get their holy hackles up and send me a scathing diatribe of the wrongness of such a thought. To them I say, as I do to all my fellow Jews, “I love you and I am so glad we are kin.”
I don’t mean my response to sound superficial. We are under siege as a people. Perhaps the attack in Brooklyn this week in the Chabad Headquarters was characterized in the media as the work of a mentally ill person but his words were very clear, he wanted to “kill Jews.” Attacks around the world, recently in a synagogue in Israel, reinforce the truth that we are hated and despised and there are those who desire to kill us. That alone should drive us closer to one another.
There will always be disagreements among us as there are in every family. Our family is G-d created and perpetuated by His mercy and the status of “chosen” should compel us to love each other as He loves us. Our love for one another should be evident to others who may view our people with the blush of age old stereotypes. Our lives and our love should shine brightly in the dark and should reveal the faithfulness of our G-d to His people.
Perhaps in the quiet moments of our day we can reflect on how deeply we believe Klal Yisrael and how deeply we truly love our fellow Jews, whether we agree with them on everything or not. May G-d grant to us that we know our purpose as individuals and our responsibilities as a people. May our love for one another overcome our ego-driven resistance to lower our expectations of our fellow Jew to believe and act as we deem correct rather than in accordance with the place they are on their spiritual journey.