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גרעין קהילתי וקריית חינוך ע"ש מאיר והראל הינה עמותה שמפעילה תוכניות ופרויקטים בתחומי ישיבה, קהילה, זהות יהודית חברה, צבא ורפואה

Unity and national responsibility

The Parasha in our everyday life - Parashat Yitro 5783

Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald - Head of the Hesder Yeshiva 'Meir Harel' Modiin

About two hundred years ago, Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot, a French engineer, "father of thermodynamics" described natural processes that are known to all. That is, in a closed system that runs by itself, as time progresses the 'disorder' increases. Years later the German physicist Rudolf Clausius formulated this phenomenon in mathematical formulas - 'Entropy'. The simple meaning of the phenomenon is that if the processes are not interfered with, they will have a natural tendency towards disorder and wear and tear. If you want them to follow a trend that will lead to a positive result, you need to 'take control of them' and lead them in the right direction.

This principle is true in the physical world in all its forms and is also true in public social processes. When there is no leader who takes responsibility or a guiding hand, the processes tend downward, towards the lowest common denominator, which cannot lead to positive results. Everyone pulls in their own direction, and כֹּל דְּאַלִּים גָּבַר 'whoever is stronger prevails' and the society is in danger of falling apart.

לְפִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לְיִשּׁוּב בְּנֵי אָדָם מִבְּלִי שֶׁיַּעֲשֹוּ אֶחָד מִבֵּינֵיהֶם רֹאשׁ עַל הָאֲחֵרִים לַעֲשֹוֹת מִצְוָתוֹ וּלְקַיֵּם גְּזֵרוֹתָיו מִפְּנֵי שֶׁדֵּעוֹת בְּנֵי אָדָם חֲלוּקִין זֶה מִזֶּה וְלֹא יַסְכִּימוּ כֻּלָּם לְעוֹלָם לְדֵעָה אַחַת לַעֲשֹוֹת דָּבָר מִכָּל הַדְּבָרִים, וּמִתּוֹךְ כָּךְ יֵצֵא מִבֵּינֵיהֶם הַבִּטּוּל וְהָאֲסִיפָה בִּפְעֻלּוֹת, וְעַל כֵּן צְרִיכִין לְקַבֵּל דַּעַת אֶחָד מֵהֶם אִם טוֹב וְאִם רַע לְמַעַן יִצְלְחוּ וְיַעַסְקוּ בְּעֶסְקוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, פַּעַם יִמָּצֵא בַעֲצָתוֹ וְחֶפְצוֹ תוֹעֶלֶת וּפַעַם הַהֵפֶךְ, וְכָל זֶה טוֹב מִן הַמַּחֲלֹקֶת שֶׁגּוֹרֵם בִּטוּל גָּמוּר

"It is because it is impossible for the settlement of people without their making one of them head over the others, to do his command and fulfill his decrees. As the opinions of people are different and they will never all agree to one opinion - to do one thing from among the many things. And from this, the result will be idleness and a cessation of actions. And therefore they need to accept the opinion of one of them - whether it is good or whether it is bad -  so that they will be successful and be involved in the business of the world, sometimes finding great benefit from his will and counsel and sometimes [finding] the opposite. And all of this is better than disagreement which causes complete idleness" (Sefer Hachinukh – Mitzva 71- To not curse a chieftain).

With the exodus of Israel from Egypt, begins the process of shaping a nation from tribes. To create national unity and mutual guarantee that will lead to taking responsibility and a willingness to rise above differences. Moshe Rabbeinu's leadership needed to face the challenge. The unity of the nation of Israel depended on its spiritual and cultural common denominator. And therefore, the first task after the exodus was to receive the Torah:

וְזֶה־לְּךָ֣ הָא֔וֹת כִּ֥י אָנֹכִ֖י שְׁלַחְתִּ֑יךָ בְּהוֹצִֽיאֲךָ֤ אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם תַּֽעַבְדוּן֙ אֶת־הָ֣אֱלֹקים עַ֖ל הָהָ֥ר הַזֶּֽה׃

"That shall be your sign that it was I who sent you. And when you have freed the people from Egypt, you shall worship G-d at this mountain.” (Shmot 3:12)

However, this was not possible before there was unity within the people of Israel and a national consensus. As said in the scripture: דְּרָכֶ֥יהָ דַרְכֵי־נֹ֑עַם "Her ways are pleasant ways..." (Proverbs 3:17)

ביקש הקב"ה ליתן תורה לישראל בשעה שיצאו ישראל ממצרים, והיו חולקין זה על זה והיו אומרים בכל שעה נתנה ראש ונשובה מצרימה (במדבר יד ד), מה כתיב ויסעו מסכות ויחנו באיתם (שמות יג כ), שהיו נוסעים במריבה וחונים במריבה, כשבאו לרפידים הושוו כולם ונעשו אגודה אחת, ומנין שנעשו כולם אגודה אחת, שנאמר ויחן שם ישראל נגד ההר (שם יט ב), ויחנו אין כתיב כאן, אלא ויחן, אמר הקב"ה התורה כולה לשום, ולמי אתננה לאומה שאוהבת שלום, הוי וכל נתיבותיה שלום

"The Holy One wanted to give Torah to Israel at the time that Israel came forth from Egypt, but they were disagreeing with each other and were always saying (in Vayikra 14:4): 'Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt'. What is written (in Shmot 13:20)? They journeyed from Succoth and encamped at Etham', because they were journeying in dissension and camping in dissension. When they came to Rephidim, they all became harmonious and formed a single group. And where is it shown that they all formed a single group? Where it is stated (in Shmot 19:2): 'And Israel encamped there before the mountain'. The plural form of "encamped" is not written here but "encamped" in the singular. The Holy One said: All of the Torah is peace. So, to whom shall I give it? To a people that loves peace. Ergo (in Prov. 3:17): Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace". (Midrash Tanchuma Buber Yitro 9)

Taking national responsibility and rising above the differences, upon arriving in the Sinai desert, created the appropriate infrastructure for the situation of giving the Torah:

ויחן שם ישראל. כְּאִישׁ אֶחָד בְּלֵב אֶחָד

"And there Israel encamped - as one man with one mind" (Rashi Shmot 19:2)

Because the Torah is given to the collective. And the individual receives his personal part of the Torah from His connection to the rule.

The main psychological obstacle on the way to unity comes from the fear that the common denominator may come at the expense of the individual. And so, everyone tries to pull the public 'blanket' to himself, even if this is an irresponsible action to the common good. However, the Torah teaches us that unity and connection for a greater good expands the 'Me' of the individual: "And here, if at first the feelings of self-love and the feelings of love for others, are like troubles to each other, we must try to go deeper into this to find the virtue that unites them; this virtue will be clarified and adjusted to the quality of his "I", because the person will be measured in this virtue according to his rank:

The rude and vile man, his entire "I" is limited only to his donkey and his body. Above him is the one who feels that his "I" is composed of body and soul. And on top of him, one who includes the members of his household and family in his "I". And the man who walks according to the ways of the Torah, his "I" includes the whole nation of Israel, that in reality every man of Israel is only like a member of the body of the Israeli nation. And there is also the virtue of the complete man, who deserves to feel that all the worlds are his "I", and he himself is only a small member within the whole of creation, and then also the feeling of self-love helps him to love the whole nation of Israel, and the whole of creation”. (Rabbi Shimon Shkop -Introduction to 'Shaare Yosher').

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