Midreshet Amit


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Flags: The Individual and The Community

By: Rabbi Rafi Rosenblum

Earlier this week, Israel celebrated Yom Yerushalayim, commemorating the reclaiming of Yerushalayim during the six day war. One major part of Yom Yerushalayim is the rikud degalim, or the flag parade. This event draws thousands of Israelis from all different sects of Judaism, as they march in unison towards the Old City, singing and dancing with one another. In our Parsha, we are told about the flags that the Jews had when they were in the desert. Each shevet had its own flag, representing a different mode of service of Hashem, unique and specific to that shevet. However, if each of the shevatim had their own way of serving Hashem, this could lead to a separation of the Jewish nation, as each shevet might think that their way is the only way to serve Hashem. In order to avoid this, R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky says, they Jews were only given their flags after the building of the mishkan. At that point, they were divided into separate groups and given their flags. Because once they had the mishkan, they had something uniting them. It’s true that they all had their own way in avodas Hashem, but they realized that my way and your way might be different, but at the end of the day, it’s all with the goal of getting closer to Hashem. They all camped equidistant from the mishkan, surrounding the mishkan, as a way of showing each other that we all have the same goal in mind.
We don’t have a mishkan nowadays, but we do have something uniting us. We have the Torah. As long as we are trying to get closer to Hashem by following what He tells us to do in the Torah, it doesn’t matter if one person does it one way and another person a different way. We’re all focused on the same thing and that’s what brings us together. Dancing on Yom Yerushalayim as a way of celebrating the miracles that Hashem did for us 54 years ago, and as a hope for the future rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdash is a great example of the idea that we might all have different flags, but we are all united in our service of Hashem. This is the only way that we can go into a day in which we receive the Torah. Rashi tells us that when they Jews got the Torah at Har Sinai, they were united like one person with one heart. As we approach our receiving of the Torah, we need to remember that we are all part of the same nation, serving the same Hashem. With this in mind, we can fully accept the Torah. Have a great Shabbos and a wonderful Shavuos!!!