Succos/V’zos HaBracha 5771 – Together As One

There was a king in Yeshurun at the gathering of the nation, the tribes of Yisroel together. (Devarim 33:5
“When they gather together as a group of one and there is peace between them, then He is the King, but not when there are arguments between them. ” – Rashi

Starting this Thursday morning, for a full week (except for Shabbos), we will be waving Lulav and Esrog. If you ask a person which part of these four species is the most important, almost everyone will respond the Esrog, as it symbolizes a wise person. It is the only one of the four species that has a good taste and a good smell. But when we take the Lulav and Esrog to wave them, we do something amazing. Normally, when we perform a mitzvah, we hold the object in our right hand (except left-handed people who would hold the object in their left-hand). For example, when we say Kiddish, we hold the cup in our right hand. When we blow Shofar, it is held in our right hand. But when we pick up the Esrog, it is held in his left hand. The Lulav is held in the right hand. It seems backwards – if the Esrog is more important, why isn’t it held in the right hand? The answer is that although when we look at each of the species individually, the Esrog is greater than the others, but when there is a group of three items, this group is greater than the Esrog. We take the Lulav in our right hand to show a group is more powerful than an individual.

The Jews have gone through much persecution for hundreds of years. We can learn something from our enemies when they have massacred us, which is they do not differentiate between the different segments of Judaism. They do not care if one Jew follows one custom while another one follows a different one. Their goal is to exterminate the world of all Jews, no matter what type of Jew the person is. According to them, a Jew is a Jew. This is the way we should look at our brothers and sisters – no matter what type of yarmulka he wears. Nor how they feel about the State of Israel. Nor if we feel they are more modern or more extreme than us. A Jew is a Jew!

A few days ago on Yom Kippur, we cried out that we should be written and sealed in the Book of Good Life. Look closely at the wording of the phrases when we asked to be written in the Good Book, and you will see that all of the statements are in the plural. This is because on Yom Kippur, we were not only praying for ourselves, but we were also praying for others to be sealed for a Good Year. But it was not only our own family or the other congregants in our synagogue that we were praying for. It was each and every Jew! As we said in the middle of the Modim prayer, “Write ALL of the people of your Covenant for a good life.” Every single Jew, no matter what, are the ones we prayed for, because when we stand together as One, we are powerful.

Rav Yissochar Frand once mentioned, the words unite and untie are the same words, it only depends on where the “I” is put. This is so true. We can easily read this and think, “this is correct, I wish so-and-so would read it.” But before pointing at others, we need to point the finger at ourselves and think of ways we can improve in this area.

The Festival of Succos is known as the Time of our Rejoicing. The greatest rejoicing is when there are no arguments, even if we have different customs. The greatest joy is when all Jews stand together.

Good Shabbos and Chag Sameach!
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