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A higher level of unity

מעמד הר סיני
ציור: יואל וקסברגר, מלכות וקסברגר

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

We are on the eve of Shavuot, the festival of the giving of the Torah. This is a day for revolutionary thinking. We are accustomed to the notion that we are a divided people, but come together and unite against a common enemy, whether the adversary is encountered in war, in a military operation, or in a pandemic. An external enemy increases our feelings of mutual responsibility, reminding us of who our antagonist actually is and who is really our brother.

Yet the festival of Shavuot, the celebration of the revelation at Mount Sinai, raises us up to a new level of unity.

At the giving of the Torah, for the first time, we were not running away from anyone, but rather coming together in joy to receive our new identity. We were not standing shoulder to shoulder to confront the ancient Egyptians, the Cossacks, the Nazis, anti-Semitism, Hezbollah, Hamas or any other threat. We simply chose to be together to receive the Ten Commandments.

The unity we seek does not depend on negative circumstances and is not based on fear, but is rather rooted in an aspiration for greater togetherness and holiness.  So this is the real message of the day: On Shavuot, it's possible to rise to a higher level of unity based on our decision to stand together as one, not because of adversity, but out of a desire to fulfill our true potential as a nation -- "k'ish echad b'lev echad" (as one person with one heart).

May we merit to rejoice in that story tomorrow and every day. Chag sameach. Have a joyous holiday.


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