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One People

Few things have kept the Jewish people in existence throughout more than the feeling of mutual responsibility for one another. No matter where a Jew lives and no matter what his predicament may be, there will always be another Jew willing to jump through fire and water for him.

This is the secret to Jewish survival, and it has been part of our collective psyche ever since we’ve become a people, after leaving Egypt and standing at Mt. Sinai. But more than just being there for each other, our history is also full of examples of how every Jew is not only another Jew’s brother, but is in fact part of the same body. Just like a body has many limbs and extremities, so does the collective Jewish body, making us all part of one unit.

One example that stands out is in the laws of offerings that a person afflicted with tzaraat, biblical leprosy, would bring as part of his purification process. The Torah describes a sliding scale of the offering’s value, based on the individual’s financial abilities. A wealthier person obviously had to bring a pricier offering and a poorer person’s offering was less costly.

But where it gets interesting is when someone offers to bring the offering on behalf of another person. The law is that if a person of lesser means pledges to bring the offering on behalf of a wealthier person, he must bring the higher cost offering, since he’s bringing it on behalf of a person who could afford the greater offering. However, when a wealthy person pledges to bring the offering on behalf of a poorer individual, that offering must also be upper tier — a wealthy man’s offering.

As counterintuitive as this may seem — after all, consistency would dictate that the wealthy person should only have to bring what the poor person actually owes — nevertheless, because the entire reason one person can bring the offering on behalf of another is because all Jews are one, if one of the parties is wealthy, he automatically elevates the other person to his level. Thus, if one side is wealthy, the offering must always be on the highest level.

It is this oneness that ensures that the Jewish people will continue to survive despite the many attempts to destroy us. This is something that our enemies can never understand and no matter what methods they use against us, as long as we continue being one, they will never succeed.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, whose birthday we mark this week, was a steadfast believer in this concept. He promoted Jewish unity as the most powerful tool against antisemitism, and he encouraged his followers to engage with every single Jew, whoever and wherever they may be, in order to enhance Jewish unity and ensure Jewish continuity.

This was especially apparent around the holiday of Passover, when the Rebbe would remind everyone to share the holiday with others. Instead of leaving empty seats at our seders to commemorate one calamity or another, the Rebbe suggested adding a seat and then finding someone to fill it who otherwise would not have a seder. The Rebbe also sent emissaries around the world in the weeks leading up to Passover to deliver shmurah matzah to as many Jews as possible. 

Today, we continue the Rebbe’s mandate by hosting seders in hundreds of communities around the world and by delivering shmurah matzah to hundreds of thousands of Jews. More than mere symbolism, these are concrete actions that demonstrate Jewish unity. By keeping this at the forefront of everything we do, the world will finally recognize that Am Yisrael Chai — the Jewish nation lives, because we are the strongest people to ever exist!

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