Together They Shall Proclaim Your Sanctity

  • Harav Yehuda Amital
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Student Summaries of Sichot of the Roshei Yeshiva
Yeshivat Har Etzion



Together They Shall Proclaim Your Sanctity

Adapted by Dov Karoll

The Torah lists at length Yaakov's descendants as they go down to Egypt (46:8-27). The family of each wife of Yaakov is listed separately: first the children and grandchildren of Leah, then the children of Zilpa, followed by the children of Rachel, and finally the children of Bilha. The Torah makes no attempt to homogenize or blur the differences between them. Each group stands alone, with its own approach. The Torah hints to us here that each approach is valid, and they should all coexist. The mistake Yosef made at the beginning of Parashat Vayeshev, which resulted in his sale, was that he tried to impose his own approach on all the brothers.

The Vilna Gaon, in his commentary on Mishlei (16:1, s.v. le-adam), says that each person has his own unique approach to the Torah. In the days of the prophets, you could go to a prophet to find out how to go about following that intuition. In our post-prophetic era, the Gaon recommends that a person should not rely on this intuition, but he does claim that it still exists. Nevertheless, the Chiddushei HaRim says that it is the task of the sages of each generation to articulate a new understanding of the Torah appropriate to that generation.

The same holds true in the contemporary State of Israel. Some of the early Zionists wanted to create a melting pot, where everyone would come out the same. Our parasha teaches us that, to the contrary, each person and each group must be allowed to make its own contribution. The greatness of the Jewish people is that each individual and each group complements the others. Anyone who accepts the basic principles of Judaism, such as the divinity of the Torah, should be allowed to operate independently and contribute to the whole. Once you have this basic common ground, the rest is just details, and should be treated that way.

In recent years, one of the songs that has become popular is "Yachad." At a recent tisch, I pointed out that this song is based on a part of the Kedusha that refers to people giving praise to God "along with" with the ministering angels. "The angels above, along with Your people below, shall crown You together, O Lord our God; together they shall proclaim Your three-fold sanctity…" (Kedusha of Musaf, Nusach Sefarad). It is relatively easy to have unity with the angels. The hard part is having unity among the Jewish people. It is this we must strive for.

[This sicha was delivered at se'uda shelishit, Parashat Vayigash 5762 (2001).]