As One man with one heart

Rabbi Azriel Uzvolk

Victory Park and Districts Hebrew Congregation

Who is like Your nation Israel? One nation upon the earth! (I Chronicles 17:21)

וּמִי כְּעַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל גּוֹי אֶחָד בָּאָרֶץ. (דברי הימים א, יז:כא)

The Gemora1 states that Hashem wears Tefillin. Now, in addition to being the Rabbi of our Victory Park Shul, I am, Boruch Hashem, a sofer, a scribe. I would not like the responsibility of writing or checking Hashem’s Tefillin. I mean I’m qualified and all that but…

It struck me, however, that the Jewish people are collectively responsible for those tefillin.

Allow me to explain. In that same piece of Gemorah Rav Nacham Bar Yitzchak asks, “What is written in the Tefillin of the Master of the universe”? Rav Chia Bar Abin answers that what is written in Hashem’s Tefillin is the verse, “Who is like Your nation Israel? One nation upon the earth!”2 In other words, both our Tefillin and the Tefillin of Hashem speak about oneness. Our Tefillin proclaim the unity of Hashem –“Shema Yisrael - Hashem Echad”,3 while Hashem’s Tefillin declare the unity of the Jewish people, “Mi Keh Amcha Yisrael Goy Echad BAretz”.4

The defining aspect of the Jewish people is to be one. “One nation upon the earth.” To be one means to be united. It goes further than acts of Ahavat Yisrael. It means to feel the pain and joy of one another. It means that what is mine is yours. It means that we internalise the concept that the entire Jewish people is one body.

To reach the level of true ahavat – love of all of – Yisrael, is not easy. At the very least we should not be the cause of division and strife. Each of us needs to do what we can to ensure that what is written in the tefillin of Hashem remains true. “Who is like Your people Israel? – One nation upon Earth!”

We have it in us to perpetuate the validity of those Supreme Tefillin. Shavuot is a time to recommit to becoming scribes of the Divine.

Wishing you all Chag Sameach and Kabbalat Torah Mitoch Simcha.

  1. Talmud, Berachot 6a

  2. I Chronicles 17:21

  3. Deuteronomy 6:4

  4. I Chronicles 17:21

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