Office of the UK Chief Rabbi
Shoftim: We are separate but always together

We are individuals in our own right and at the same time we are part of our nation.

UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis ,

UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis
Office of the Chief Rabbi

The Jewish people and the Torah are one.

We learn this from a verse in the parsha of Shoftim. The Torah says (Devarim 18:13),

“Tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokeicha.” – “You must be complete with the Lord your God.”

The Jewish people and the Torah are one.

We learn this from a verse in the parsha of Shoftim. The Torah says (Devarim 18:13),

“Tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokeicha.” – “You must be complete with the Lord your God.”

Reb Yitzchak Elchonon of Kovno taught as follows: In the Book of Psalms 19:8 we are told,

“Torat Hashem temimah,” – “The Torah of Hashem is complete.”

As a result we see Yisrael veoraita chad hu – the people of Israel and the Torah are one.

And in what respect are we similar to a Sefer Torah? Explains Reb Yitzchak Elchonon: With regard to the temimut, the complete nature of a Sefer Torah. The Torah is only perfect when every single letter within it is perfect, but if one single letter is passul, if one letter is rendered unfit, then the entire Sefer Torah is unfit to be read from.

Similarly, with the Jewish people, every single person counts. If there is a problem relating to one particular individual it affects all of us. The Lubavitcher Rebbe conveyed this same message in a deeper way. The very last mitzvah of the Torah, mitzvah number 613, is, “V’atah kitvu lachem et ha shirah hazot.

It’s a mitzvah to write a Sefer Torah – and with regard to the writing of the Sefer Torah, the Talmud tells us about the concept of ‘gvil mukhaf’ that is to say that every letter in the Torah must be surrounded by a clear space. You can’t link one letter to another but at the same time, all the letters must be close enough to the other letters within that word in order to separate one word from another.

Here, said the Rebbe, we have a representation of the situation of every Jewish person. We are individuals in our own right and at the same time we are part of our nation.

Let’s therefore empathise with the situation of others. Let’s be troubled when they are troubled. Let’s rejoice with them at the time of their happiness. Let’s reach out with compassion and kindness to be there at the time of their need. After all, whatever happens with one person affects us all.

Shabbat shalom.



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