We just celebrated Shavuot this week, with so many friends and in such a great community atmosphere. It reminded me of how the Jewish unity was described at the time we received the Torah.
Let me take a step back. During the Passover Seder we sing the famous Dayenu song where we express our gratitude to G-d for taking us out of Egypt and making us a free people to serve Him.
Rather than focusing on the hardships we experienced and any grievances, the song is full of praise and gratitude. In a series of stanzas we say things like "had G-d only taken us out, but not punished the Egyptians, Dayenu - that would have been sufficient." And on and on.
But there is one curious stanza where we say "had He brought us to Mt. Sinai and not giving us the Torah - Dayenu - that would have been sufficient."
What does that mean? Of what value is there to come to Mt. Sinai without receiving the Torah there?
The answer lies in the Torah's description of the Israelites camping at Mt. Sinai. "And Israel encamped there opposite the mountain," the verse says, surprisingly using a singular term when describing the plurality of the Israelites.
This is precisely the point; when we came to the mountain we were "like one person with one heart." There was such a great feeling of love and brotherhood, that we can sing Dayenu - it was worth coming to Sinai, just to experience that unity. And it was that great sense of unity that enabled us to receive the Torah.
In our beautiful community we are blessed to have different Jews of very different backgrounds all coming together to learn, pray and celebrate in unity. It's something very unique to our small Jewish community and I cherish it.
Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.