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Unity Alone

Unity Alone

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In the Dayenu hymn in the Passover Haggadah, we list all the wonders that G‑d did for us when we left Egypt. After each of the fifteen stanzas of this hymn we say, "dayenu"—"it would have sufficed us."

"If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them—dayenu, it would have sufficed us!" etc.

One of the stanzas says: "If He had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us the Torahdayenu!" Now this seems puzzling. What in the world would be the point of going to Mount Sinai if not to receive the Torah? What other point is there in being there? After all, at this particular mountain there is neither food, nor water or skiing...

Something special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish peopleBut actually, something very special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that "Vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar," "Israel camped there opposite the mountain." The biblical commentator Rashi points out that the word the Torah uses, וַיִחַן (vayichan), is in the singular tense—"he camped" rather than "they camped."

This, Rashi explains, denotes that the entire nation encamped there as one man with one heart.

The Dayenu tells us that if all that was accomplished was the Jewish people standing united for one moment—this itself is an accomplishment of amazing worth. Coming together as one and putting aside all our differences for a greater purpose is one of the greatest mitzvot we can do. It stands on its own, and was a moment of closeness to G‑d that carried significance even if the Torah had not been given.1

Footnotes
1.

Adapted from the Haggadah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of blessed memory.

Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe is a frequent contributor of articles and media to Chabad.org, is Dean of the Institute of American and Talmudic Law in New York, N.Y., and Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Torah in Springfield. Mass. Rabbi Yaffe has lectured and led seminars throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
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ruth housman marshfield hills, ma January 18, 2011

to go to the mountain A long time ago I sat outside in Yosemite National Park, surrounded by mountains, feeling very small, and yet, feeling I was part of something far greater than myself. I had this deep, perhaps really strange feeling, the mountains would move, would come to me. I sat outside for a long time, just waiting, for the mountain to come to me. I kept silent about this. I have never forgotten.

I think it is true that faith moves mountains. I have learned, in time, that the mountain does come for us all, and that the come in comfort has everything to do with Sinai, with THAT mountain, with yes, togetherness. A feeling of deep unity as a peoples.

Not long ago I climbed the Mountain known as Mount Sinai with my sister. The view from the top was beautiful and the view down below, of all those people struggling up the moment, was equally amazing.

It was an experience, strangely, without "peer". Reply

Michelle January 17, 2011

wow thank you Reply

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