Friday, February 2, 2018

Is Unity Always Good? Rabbi Binyamin Kahane

Kahane on the Parsha
Rabbi Binyamin Kahane- Parshat Yitro
So much is heard these days on the need to be united. Indeed, "unity" has become a major buzzword in the mouths of those Jews who seek solutions to the problems plaguing us. If only we were united, they say, we would overcome our enemies, live in peace- even bring the redemption. Even the most outspoken and uncompromising types talk of unity as an elixir that would solve all our problems. And so the question that must be asked is: Is it true? Is unity really the cure-all?
In Parshat Yitro, we find a rare moment of unity among the Jewish people. The Torah writes about the moment they arrived at Mt. Sinai: "And Israel encamped near the mountain." The Rabbis, noting that the word "encamped" is written in singular form ("VaYichan"), tell us they encamped "as one man, as one heart."
What an awesome moment!!! The Jewish people are standing at Mt. Sinai about to receive G-d's Law, and the Torah reveals to us that this particular moment was unlike any other. This time there were no quarrels, no bickering. Everyone was united around one idea, one goal.
But there is a tremendous difference between this unity at the foot of Mt. Sinai and the unity that so-called leaders of today babble about. For the question isn't whether unity is good or bad, but rather: What cause are you uniting around?
G-d dispersed the generation of the Tower of Bavel because they were united for evil. Therefore, despite their unity they were branded the "Dor Haflaga"- the generation of "splitting" or "schism." Their unity revolved around an evil purpose. It was a unity of wicked people, who "split" or separated from G-d.
In other words, unity of the wicked is bad. As our Rabbis state, "The scattering of the wicked is good for them and good for the world" (Sanhedrin 72a). Uniting for evil purposes is abhorrent to G-d.
Leaders and scholars should pay heed to the words they speak. By preaching unity in such loose terms, they mislead the nation. Every unity has its limits- it MUST BE for the doing of good.
Darka Shel Torah, 1994
Shabbat Shalom!
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