We have come together at a gathering of many Jews; this phenomenon expresses and emphasizes the unity of the Jewish people.

Every individual, naturally, has his own individual personality, his personal matters and interests, and he lives his own life. These aspects make him unique and single him out from all other people.

The differences that exist among the Jewish people express themselves only in secondary matters. In their essential existence Jews are all associated with, and part of, the “one nation”; they are all children of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov, and Sarah, Rivkah, Rochel and Leah. Moreso, the Torah tells us:

You are children of G‑d your L‑rd, (Devarim 14:1)

so much so, that each Jew is called: “Israel is My son My firstborn” (Shmos 4:22). Thus, there is a fundamental unity which draws us all together.

This centripetal force and inward gravitation is most evident (for example) between children and parents. They may be separated, far away, involved in different activities and interests, yet, all of these separating factors become insignificant in face of the essential fact of the parent-child relationship and inner cohesion.

When we view the most essential daily activity of all Jews, we will see that several times a day all Jews turn to G‑d in prayer and supplication, asking for His blessing for long life, sustenance and health. This takes place at the time of Shacharis, Minchah and Maariv (morning, afternoon and evening prayers), with the additional prayer of Modeh Ani (I offer thanks ...) upon awakening and the Shema before retiring, when all Jews proclaim: “I entrust my spirit into Your hand,...” with full faith and trust that the soul will return the next morning rested and refreshed.

Thus, the unity of the Jewish people is not only because of their essence but it is also expressed by their activities and prayers.

So, when many Jews gather for a common activity this stresses that we are one! And the realization of this unity provides the necessary strength and stamina to each individual to face up to any and all difficulties in life. Knowing that he is part of a large family gives him the courage and fortitude to overcome any obstacles he may face — whether they are real, or just projected by the non-Jewish world around him, to intimidate him and detain him from his Jewish observance.

Being the “firstborn” child of G‑d, each and every Jew may rest assured and go about his daily life with a certainty, that he will receive all the necessary blessings from the Holy One, Blessed be He.

Make a simple, a fortiori, deduction: Normal human parents make every effort to provide for their children; they even sacrifice their own needs to give their children. How much more so, must this be true in the case of the Holy One, Blessed be He, our “Merciful Father.” He is not limited, He need not make any calculation or balance when He bestows His infinite blessing. Does He have to worry, that if He gives one there will not be enough for the other?!

The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine says the L‑rd of hosts. (Chaggai 2:8)

Everything is under His control and He will certainly give every Jew and all Jews, young and old, from His “full, open, holy and generous hand,” with friendliness and a shining countenance.

At this time, when we prepare for the month of Elul and the approaching new year, this assuredness must be expressed even more strongly with joy and absolute faith.

* * *

There is a special message for those who are gathered here today — elderly men and women who are blessed with long life and good years.

The concept of “old age” is very important for the Jewish people.

A nation measures its importance and quality on the basis of how many centuries it exists; how long its constitution has stood the test of time. Some nations brag of a 200-year tradition, others may go back 1000 years. But no nation can compare to the Jewish people, who trace their age back 3500 years. That was when we received our constitution — the Torah — at Matan Torah. Hence only we have the supreme quality of “old age.”

At the same time, of course, the Torah is always fresh and new for a Jew. After 3500 years it is as young as the new day. But our Torah is not just a constitution, like all other constitutions made by men. The Torah is G‑d’s word to the world and it even preceded the creation of the world. Our daily lives must be lived in accordance with this “Old-New” Torah; and it will bring us new life and renewed strength, when we live according to its laws.

Let us take an example.

When a Jew awakes from his sleep he begins the day with the Torah principle, that one must give thanks for the benevolence he receives, and so he recites:

I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King ... You have mercifully restored my soul within me.... (Siddur)

As the day goes on, he continues to lead his life according to Torah.

Similarly, in the case of the days of the week and Shabbos. During the week the Jews count the days relative to Shabbos, for they know that G‑d created the world in six days and made the seventh a day of rest. At the approach of the Shabbos the woman kindles the Shabbos candles and creates a bond with all Jewish women all over the world who are lighting Shabbos candles at that time. When the Kiddush is recited it proclaims the sanctity of the Shabbos and the candlelight adds pleasure and protection to the day of Shabbos.

Torah, thus, gives us a way of life which effects a combination and fusion of the material and spiritual, the profane and the sacred. The physical world is permeated with the spirit of the soul and G‑dliness. This holds true in all the activities of the Jew, in his home, in the old age home (senior citizen center) etc.; and the rule of the Holy One, Blessed be He, becomes visible and evident.

When elderly people come together it is important to remember this point. If the body seems older and weaker because of age, then by increasing the unity of body and soul (through Torah and mitzvos) — the soul will give new life to the body — it will become energized, having unified itself with the soul-life.

Likewise they will merit the blessings of the Holy One, Blessed be He. Not being limited, G‑d will bless us with infinite treasures — He gives every Jew and all Jews an abundance of blessing — “immeasurable blessings.” And first and foremost, proper health, with all the necessary details, and we will merit to see true Yiddishe nachas, from children, and grandchildren — to the end of all generations.

* * *

There are other factors related to this gathering which have a lesson for us.

Tuesday of the week of creation was the day on which the term “ki tov — that it was good,” was doubled in the Torah. On which, the Talmud explains:

Good to Heaven and good to man. (Kiddushin 40a)

We may take a lesson from this occurrence, at this gathering, on the third day of the week, that a Jew must involve himself in matters which are good for G‑d and good for man — to fulfill G‑d’s mission by observing Torah and mitzvos (good to Heaven) and by extending a helping hand to other Jews around him (good to man).

Show a friendly smile, say a good word, give some good advice, be truly interested in your neighbor’s well-being and in the health of his family. Express your good wishes and blessings at all times. This of course will bring joy to the heart of your friend. This will also bring additional good in your relationship with Heaven and will engender additional blessings for you from the Holy One, Blessed be He.

In today’s Chumash section we find:

When G‑d excises the nations to which you are coming and draws them away before you.... After they have been wiped out before you, be very careful not to fall into a deadly trap by trying to follow them. Do not try to find out about their gods, saying, “Now, how did these nations worship their gods? I would also like to try [such practices].” Do not worship G‑d your L‑rd with such practices. (Devarim 12:29-31)

The section concludes:

You will have obeyed G‑d your L‑rd, keeping all the commandments that I prescribe to you today and doing what is morally right in the eyes of G‑d your L‑rd. (Ibid. 13:19)

The context of this Torah section is, that Jews find themselves among the nations of the world, who conduct themselves according to their lifestyles, which may include idolatry. This paganism may be understood in the literal sense, or figuratively — that they worship the “Golden Calf,” money, or other gross materialistic pleasures. A Jew must always know, that although these nations are the majority and we are just a small nation — the Jew must not learn from their ways and must not copy their customs.

G‑d placed us among the nations so that we should be an example for them — they should learn from us how to observe the Seven Noachide Laws!

When we conduct ourselves properly, then we will receive all the blessing delineated by the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the Torah: long life, good years, health and peace of mind, and true Yiddishe nachas from ourselves, from our families and all of Israel.

We will also merit respectful and honorable relations with the nations of the world, as, for example, G‑d has bestowed upon the Jews in this good country. Here we enjoy the respect of the goyim, and they extend their aid to yeshivos, Talmud Torahs, senior citizen residences etc. There, in the centers and residences, Jews may live according to the dictates of the Torah — the age-old Torah, which we have over 3000 years, and which renews our lives everyday.

* * *

In today’s section of the Rambam we study about the laws of maaser — tithing. The gist of this mitzvah as described in the Rambam is that when G‑d bestows His blessings upon a Jew in Eretz Yisrael, and his farm and vineyard are productive and bountiful, then, even before he, himself, may partake of the cornucopia of goodness he must set aside maaser and give it to the Levi, who has no field or vineyard and is dependent upon other Jews. This form of tithe is called “maaser rishon.”

What is the eternal lesson of the eternal Torah, that we garner from these teachings?

When a Jew is involved in earning a living [at any time, in any form, in any place] and he enjoys the benevolence of the Holy One, Blessed be He, and he does well, his first responsibility is to set aside a tithe (maaser — at least a tenth) of his earnings for others who are needy.

In this manner he will benefit from the nine parts which are reserved for him. For, the larger the tenth part for charity is — the more G‑d will give him in his nine-tenths! The blessing will be in wealth, spiritual powers and everything that he requires.

* * *

May G‑d bless each and every one of us among all the Jewish people with success and long life.

Every Jew who is born has a true G‑d-given potential to live to 120 — and may Mashiach come and we will all benefit from eternal life.

When we live according to Torah, then our lives are healthy and rich. And when we help others to live according to Torah, and practice, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” we do good to heaven and good to man. And we speed the advent of the blessing, that we will go out to greet Mashiach with, “our youth and our elders, our sons and daughters,” and we will go to the Holy Land, where the blessing of peace will prevail, and all the lands that should be part of the Holy Land will come under Jewish dominion in a peaceful way.

May this all be with joy and glad hearts, with health and comfort.

We will close with the distribution of dollar bills which should be used for charity: “Great is charity in that it brings the redemption nearer” (B. Basra 10a). And may the coming year be full: good and sweet, a year of health, joy and life. Kesivah VaChasimah Tovah; long life and good years.