Sunday, April 22, 2007

Rav Hirsh- Pirkei Avos 2:4

"Hillel would say: Do not separate yourself from the community."
Rav Hirsch: It is not to the individual, but to the community, Morasha Kellios Yaakov, that God entrusted His Torah as an inheritance for all the generations to come. For this reason every individual is duty bound to join forces with his community in thought, in word and in deed and loyally to share in its tasks and obligations, so long as that community proves to be a faithful guardian and supporter of the Torah. Indeed, it is essential in the discharge of his own life's task that the individual be part of a larger community. For whatever he may be able to do on his own is inadequate and short-lived; it is only in conjunction with the achievements of others that his own actions can have importance.

These words struck because I often go back and forth in my mind about "individuality within a community", especially within a Torah observant society. While I know it's important to be part of a community beyond a minyan, there is the creeping thought in the back of my mind that I don't want to be just a number within a community either.

Rav Hirsch, who was an individual, built and fought for his community and Klal Yisrael. He reminds me of something that I know, but often don't remember as much as I should. The singularity of accepting the Torah at Har Sinai was that we did it as an "one" not as many. As a Jewish nation we were charged with accepting the Torah.

Over the years my children have been taught that Moshe got the Torah from Hashem (see the first mishna in Pirkei Avos). Teachers send home parsha sheets with that statement in the form of "How got the Torah on Har Sinai?" While my kids can answer it, maybe the next question should be, "Who was the Torah for?"

I am not meant to live isolated within my own community. We each have something to offer and most probably no matter if it is with ones' spouse or ones' shul, community chessed organizations, or the minyan down the block, "it is only in conjunction with the achievements of others that his own actions can have importance."