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May 21, 1993 - Image 32

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-05-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

torah Portion

Calling BBYO, B'NEI AKIVA, COMMUNITY JEWISH HIGH SCHOOL, MYSTY
NCSY, New Americans, USY, Young Judaea • • -TEENS (Grades 9-12)

CAFE JERUSALEM '93

From Multiplicity
Emerges A Unity

Sunday, May 23, 1993
5 - 7 p.m.
United Hebrew Schools Auditorium

TO CELEBRATE YOM YERUSHALYIM

RABBI IRWIN GRONER SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH NEWS

The 26th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem

0

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• Kosher Supper

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A UnItul Wey Service

n this Sabbath, we be-
gin reading the Book
of Bamidbar, which
describes the episodes
and experiences that the
children of Israel underwent
in their journey through the
wilderness for 40 years. This
week's sedrah describes the
arrangement and order in
which the Israelites en-
camped and journeyed in
their march from Egypt to
Canaan. In the center of the
camp was the ohel moed, the
tent of meeting, containing
the Ark of the Covenant,
guarded by the Levites.
Round about it were station-
ed the rest of the tribes, each
of them distinguished from
the other by its own banner,
each marching with its own
group.
What was the purpose of
these regulations? Why
should each tribe march
under its own standard? The
answer to these questions
may shed light on resolving
the problems which concern
us in our communal life.
The Torah recognized that
the Jewish people were to be
grouped according to tribes
rather than as uniform folk,
for this reason: Judaism
acknowledges the wide varie-
ty of interests, the differences
of the soul of people, the
latitude in the courses of life
one may choose. Yet, within
this multiplicity, there
emerges a unity which is
based on a common attach-
ment to the central sanc-
tuary. Although tribe was
distinct from tribe, they were
to be bound together. Each
was to maintain its separate
identity and still share in the
unity of the whole.
This is the true ideal of a
flourishing and vigorous com-
munity. Yet, we persistently
neglect it. We want every
member of the community to
march under one banner.
Each group declares: "We
alone possess the true
understanding of the Jewish
heritage, the authentic
Jewish way of life."
We fail to make provision
for differences in tempera-
ment, upbringing, education
and belief. We refuse to admit
the elementary fact that what
suits one Jew may not suit
another. We demand that all
should be alike, or rather,

Irwin Groner is senior rabbi of

Congregation Shaarey Zedek.

that others should be like us.
The consequence of this at-
titude is the creation of divi-
sions in the community, often
mutually hostile. Such at-
titudes are a source of
weakness among us. Our
energies and resources are
dissipated in mutual
criticism and recrimination,
rather than in unified effort
on behalf of our common goal,
to strengthen the Jewish peo-
ple in its journey to spiritual
fulfillment.
Consider the scene in the
wilderness — the Ark in the
center of the people, sur-
rounded by the 12 tribes, each
recognizable by outward sym-
bols. Each Israelite was in his
place under the tribal banner
to which he was attached. By
such arrangement and in
such formation, the sanc-
tuary was properly guarded;
and thus, the people marched
on their journey. If Moses had
tried to obliterate the dif-

Shabbat Bamidbar:
Numbers 1:1-4:20
Hosea 2:1-22.

ferences and had demanded
uniformity, it is certain that
internal troubles would have
constantly arisen to disturb
the national unity. But by
wisely recognizing the tribal
distinctions and even preser-
ving them by means of visible
signs, he secured oneness.

This explains a remarkable
phenomenon in Jewish
history. We have always had
our diviisons. Our flexibility
and mutual respect prepared
us for the outlook that there
is not necessarily one Jewish
response to the problems of
the times, but many alter-
natives. German Jewry dur-
ing the Middle Ages ad-
dressed their concerns dif-
ferently than the Spanish-
Jewish communities, each
responding to the conditions
posed by their particular
societies. Is not the same true
of the divergent programs and
ideologies of the Reform, Con-
servative and Orthodox
movements and other
movements as well? I believe
it is a blessing that one is not
forced into a religious com-
partment, but rather one has
the power of choosing the way
of Jewish observance and

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