This week's Torah reading begins Atem nitzavim, "You are standing here today, all of you... from the heads of tribes... to the woodcutters and water-drawers."

The commentaries explain that nitzavim in Hebrew means "standing firm." This verse teaches us that our standing firm is conditional upon it being all of you standing together. Each of us, from the highest to the lowliest, has our part to play and our own potential to fulfill.

The Talmud's Ethics of the Fathers tells us, "Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot." Rather than worrying about why we are not standing in somebody else's shoes, our task is to fulfill our potential at the level we are at, in the situation where we are now, knowing that even if it may seem insignificant, each of us contributes on our own level and in our own way to the greater picture. In order to "stand firm" as a nation, we need the contribution of each person, on every level.

The story was told of Rabbi Aryeh Levin (known as "the tzaddik from Jerusalem') who informed the doctor that "my wife’s leg is hurting us." This idea applies to all of us, as a community. When one person suffers, another feels the pain, even at a distance. When an event takes place in a distant country, this affects us as much as if it were to happen next door.

There is no "us and them." Anything which undermines decency and the sanctity of human life, the very fabric of our community, has an effect on all of us, whether we are directly involved or not. Each person needs to be intact, in order for us to achieve our communal potential. If one person is suffering or is otherwise affected by something, this has an impact on all of us.