The Torah describes the infamous episode when Moses performs the very first example of tikkun olam, a mending of the past and rectification of what was broken, namely the sin...Read More
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
– Coretta Scott King
“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”
– Mitch Albom
“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.”
– Marie Curie
Moses then assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them: These are the things that the Hashem has commanded you to do:
– Exodus 35:1
Moses assembled the entire community of the Children of Israel. The comprehensive term עדה includes both men and women. Seeing that both the men and the women had contributed of their belongings for the work on the Tabernacle they were all entitled to be addressed here directly. The assembly mentioned here, occurred on the day after Moses had returned from his last trip to the Mountain on Yom Kippur and had informed the people that the instructions to build a Sanctuary for G’d were living proof that they were back in God’s favor.
– Tur HaAroch, Exodus 35:1:1
A psalm of Asaph. God stands in the divine assembly; among the divine beings He pronounces judgment.
– Psalms 82:1
From where do we derive that the Divine Presence is with a group of ten (a minyan) praying? Because the verse in Psalms 82, says, “God stands with His assembly.” From where do we derive that God is with two people when they study Torah together? Because the verse in Malachi 3 states, “Then the God-fearing men spoke, each one to his friend, and God listened.” And from where do we derive that even when one person studies Torah, God is with him? Because the verse in Exodus 20, says, “In every place that My Name is mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.”
Now since we know that God’s Presence is with even one person, why do we need to derive (from its own verse) that God is with two or ten people? The answer is that God writes a group of two in His Book of Remembrances, while an individual’s study is not written there. With a group of ten, God actually comes to them before they start praying.
– Brachot 6a
Primary repentance is in the month of Elul because [its days] are days of favor, when Moshe ascended to receive the latter Tablets and opened a beaten path in which to go. Now, the path which Moshe made is this: Moshe bound himself with even the least Jew, and gave his life for them, as it is written, “But if not, please blot me out!” (Exodus 32:32). This is also the meaning of: “And Moshe assembled…” (Exodus 35:1)—that Moshe would gather, unite and bind himself with all of Israel, even with the least of the least. This is the meaning of “They have entirely withdrawn; together” (Psalms 53:4). Even when I see a Jew who has totally withdrawn from God, I nevertheless need us to be “together”—I must unite and bind with him, just as Moshe did.
The word “team” is a great acronym for “Together Everyone Accomplishes More.” Teamwork and working as a community are not simply ways to combine individuals’ achievements. Rather, the team succeeds in ways that would be unimaginable for individuals. This is seen in team sports as well as in projects at work.
So too, in the spiritual realm. The quality of the Mitzvah will be far better when performed by a group and God credits the Mitzvah as such in Heaven. This is why the Mishna says in Pirkei Avot (4:14), “A group gathering for the sake of heaven is so powerful that it is guaranteed to have lasting effects.”
In Pirkei Avot (2:2) it says: “And all who labor with the community, should labor with them for the sake of Heaven, for the merit of their forefathers sustains them (the community), and their (the forefather’s) righteousness endures for ever; And as for you, [God in such case says] I credit you with a rich reward, as if you [yourselves] had [actually] accomplished [it all].”
In Pirkei Avot (2:5) it says “A brute is not sin-fearing, nor is an ignorant person pious; nor can a timid person learn, nor can an impatient person teach; nor will someone who engages too much in business become wise. In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man.“
There is the well-known story of the shul that asked all its members to donate a cup of wine. Each member reasoned that everyone else would donate wine, so he could get away with putting in a cup of water. When they came to fetch wine from the barrel, it was all pure water! That is what may happen when one relies on others to do the task. Every person may rationalize that others will do it.
Rabbi Boruch Sorotzkin, a co-founder of the Telshe Yeshiva in Wickliffe, Ohio, says that this is relevant to all commandments in the Torah, and especially when it comes to involvement in community. When there is something to be done, do not rely on others, even if they share the responsibility. Act as if you were the only person available and capable of doing the task.