“Speak to the entire congregation of Israel…that they should take for themselves, each man a lamb according to their fathers’ homes, a lamb per household. And if a household is too few for a lamb, then he should take one with a neighbor near-by his house, according to the count of souls…” (Exodus 12:3–4).
Words like “congregation,” “fathers’ home” (i.e., tribe) and “household” are too rare in our discussions and may be altogether missing from our thinking.
In most discussions of spiritually and drawing close to God, focus is placed on the individual person. He should engage in certain behaviors and disengage from others. She should exert herself to pray with more attention and intention. Certain attitudes and prejudices should be dispensed with, others developed. Successfully engaging and changing in these ways makes the individual more capable and more worthy of connecting to God.
But we Jews are not only singletons. We are also parts of a much greater “beings.“ We are parts of families, of tribes and of a nation. A great deal of what God wants to bestow upon each and every Jew can only be had when Jews (create and) operate together as these larger entities. More importantly, as much honor and pride as an individual Jew brings God, the family unit potentially brings more, the tribal unit even more and the national most of all. And not just more spiritual light and honor, but a qualitatively different and greater light. This light, this connection and this honor we give to God are not available in any other way.
God did not tell Moshe Rabbeinu that He was going to redeem some individuals so they could serve Him privately. What God wanted to bestow could not be handled by a few people, even if they were in the same league as Moshe and Aharon. He told Moshe (Exodus 6:6–7), “Therefore say to the Israelites I will take etkhem (plural form of “you”) away from your forced labor…I will take etkhem to Myself as an am, nation.”
So, for the benefit of all—and to fulfill more completely God’s purpose and desire in redeeming us—let’s try to connect and re-connect with family, congregation and community.* The world depends upon us to make these vessels for the good and the light it so desperately needs.
© Copyright 2011 Breslov Research Institute
*Yes, I know; making up is hard to do. So is assuming a secondary role or a leadership role. But imagine if the feet decided they didn’t want to carry the weight of the body any more, or if the heart wanted to pump blood only when it felt like it.