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Parashat VaEtchanan
Beyond Borders: Unveiling the Universal Message of Unity in Ancient Wisdom

Parashat VaEtchanan gives us one of the most important verses in the entire Torah - the famous verse:
"Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is One".

What is the meaning of this verse, which is apparently talking about the people of Israel - Shema Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One?

Apparently, the wording "Adonai is our God" does not necessarily imply a monotheistic statement. As if saying that Adonai is the God of Israel but what about the rest of the world? Who is their god?

Hence the greatest commentator, Rashi, interpreted the words somewhat paradoxically, but this is how he explains: "Adonai is our God and not (yet) the God of the nations". I add ‘yet’ in parentheses to emphasize that in the future all of mankind will accept Adonai as the One God.

This means that the expression "One" is not there to declare that God is the only God. We knew this even without this verse. The innovation is that the mission of the People of Israel, and the historical dynamics of the People of Israel are expressed at the first stage of its existence.

Israel is charged with advancing the entire world. Israel’s goal is to affect all of humanity to recognize Adonai’s dominion and to bask in its light. Consequently, the phrase "Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one" is not a declaration of faith but rather a work plan.

In our times we are working together, the children of Israel and the children of Noah, to complete the great vision that God, who for the time being is the God of Israel, will become the God of one, for the entire world and for all human beings.


More Weekly Portions

Integrating Personal and Communal Well-Being through Torah
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Parshat Nasso addresses individual and family issues while emphasizing the collective unity through the Priestly Blessing. This blessing, structured in three levels, reflects a balance between material and spiritual needs: "May HaShem bless you and watch over you." for wealth, "May HaShem cause His countenance to shine to you" for spiritual illumination through Torah, and "May HaShem lift up His countenance upon you and grant you peace" for the deep connection of Nefesh, Ruah, and Neshama. The Torah guides to integrate personal and communal well-being harmoniously.

Beyond the Count: Individual Worth and Collective Unity
[Bemidbar]

Parshat Bamidbar discusses the commandment to count the Israelites, focusing on those eligible for the army. This count underscores the tension between collective and individual identities. The Torah uses the expression "number of names," signifying the importance of both the collective and the individual. The Torah teaches that true unity blends these aspects, with the collective gaining meaning through each individual's uniqueness. This concept is reflected in the principle of "generalization and specification" in scriptural interpretation, with hidden meanings in the numbers, explored through the gematria.

Tears of Exile, Seeds of Hope: The Unbreakable Bond Between God and Israel
[Bechukotai]

Parashat Bechukotai discusses the covenant between God and Israel, emphasizing the importance of repentance for redemption. The Talmudic debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua delves into whether redemption is contingent on teshuva. Rashi's commentary interprets the ambiguous term "או" to support both views. This dual perspective highlights the Torah's open interpretation, showing that redemption can depend on human repentance or divine promise, reflecting a complex interplay of conditions in Judaism's understanding of historical progress.

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