Free translation from a talk of the Rebbe, Motzaei Shabbat Parshat Acharei, 5738 (1978), (excerpt)

1. When a variety of Jews, each one representing a different sector of the total Jewish community, meet together, their intent should be to rise above their own personal existences. As the Torah states in Devarim, “You are all standing before G‑d: “your Heads, your leaders.(mentioning ten different categories including even).your woodchoppers and water carriers.” (1)

The intent of that verse is to define the collectiveness of the Jewish people as one singular entity. Even so, the ten different categories are mentioned (and the verb ‘Nitzavim’ (standing) and the pronoun ‘Kulchem’ (you) are in the plural) to accentuate the awareness that the unity of the Jewish people does not stand in opposition to plurality. Rather, it recognizes the particular perspective of each individual and that it is applicable to him within the context of his own experience.

The potential for the existence of such a unity among the Jewish people is derived from the Absolute Unity of G‑d Himself. Though G‑d’s unity is the Absolute of Oneness, nevertheless, in creation of the world, He chose not to reveal that oneness as it is for itself, but to bring into being a multitude of creations, each one with an individual identity and importance — each one as a particular expression of G‑d’s greatness. When contemplating the vast multitude of different creations, one is moved to feelings of awe at G‑d’s infinity. These feelings are communicated in the verse recited every day in the morning service “How great are Your deeds, O G‑d.” (2)

These two concepts, viz., G‑d’s Absolute Unity and the seemingly infinite amount of created beings, while on the surface contradictory, are, in fact, inter-dependent. As the Mitteler Rebbe explains in ‘Toras Chaim’, only an Absolute Unity can produce an unlimited amount of creations.’ (3)

Therefore, though on the surface, the world appears to be of a limited nature and every creation limited to a specific and defined existence, in truth, however, when you consider the vast multitude of creations, and perceive how (to the degree possible under the limitations of space) their number approaches infinity (particularly, if you take into account their potential for reproduction), then you become aware of the G‑dly power invested in creation, and perceive how the world reflects G‑d’s infinity.

This concept of a fusion between unity and infinite difference is reflected in the general composition of the human race. Though a basic similarity is common to all men, insomuch that they share the same physical features, body structure, etc., nevertheless, no two men are exactly alike. Marked differences exist in their appearances, attitudes, dispositions, etc.

Both of these factors, viz., the basic similarity, and the unending variety are expressions of oneness. Both directly (through similarity) and indirectly (through infinite difference, as explained above) one can perceive G‑d’s Absolute Unity. By simultaneously combining two opposites in one place, the divine attribute of Ultimate Transcendency is revealed.

2. The Temple in Jerusalem revealed this attribute of Ultimate Transcendency in the world par excellence. The different sections of the Temple varied in their holiness, and correspondingly, they varied in the degree to which they revealed G‑d’s Ultimate Transcendency. In the Holy of Holies, the most complete expression of Ultimate Transcendency was manifest. The room’s very construction (as explained below) testified to G‑d’s power.

In the Temple in general, and in the Holy of Holies in particular, precise measure was of extreme importance. If an object did not carefully adhere to the measure specified for it, it did not qualify for Temple use. The measure of the Eastern Wall of the Holy of Holies was as follows: 10 cubits from the northern wall to the ark, 2 1/4 cubits the length of the ark, and ten cubits from the ark to the southern wall. Yet the entire span from the northern wall to the southern wall measured only 20 cubits. The ark stood as an open and revealed manifestation of G‑d’s Ultimate Transcendency.

As the Talmud explains “from the Temple emanated light to the entire world,” (4) i.e., through the revelation of G‑dliness in the Temple, we can become aware of and learn to appreciate the true nature of the world’s existence.

In fact, the world is a “Dirah Batachtonim,” G‑d’s dwelling place. The very same qualities of Ultimate Transcendency revealed in the Temple are present throughout the whole of creation. However, in the world, these elements are hidden, (due to specific divine intention) in order that a Jew demonstrate how Torah has shaped his mind. Despite the lack of revelation, the Jew realizes the world’s true nature and does what is dependent on him (through his service of Torah and Mitzvos) to bring about the revelation of those qualities in the world.

Each act of Torah and Mitzvos brings about the revelation of G‑d’ Absolute Unity in the world. Though, presently, that revelation is not apparent, yet, man’s lack of perception does not diminish the effects of a Jew’s service. The Messianic redemption will demonstrate how a Jew’s Torah activity caused an open expression of G‑d’s Absolute Unity.

3. This concept of transcendency is reflected in man himself. Each man possesses 613 organs (365 sinews, 248 limbs). Each organ has a specific function, an individual identity, and a unique importance. However, each individuals’ personal identity dominates the functioning of his body. The separate organs all combine and join together in unified activity.

Similarly, the Talmud Yerushalmi (5) compares the totality of the Jewish people to the human body. Though composed of different and individual entities, the entire nation is joined together by a common identity. This common denominator and the unity between Jews it produces, comes to the fore when many and different Jews meet together (as here tonight).

For this reason, the Ari Hakodesh, Rav Isaac Luria, writes that before prayer you should fully accept upon yourself the commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (6) Before beginning your daily activities, you should re-affirm your commitment to unite yourself with the entire Jewish people.

Prayer is not meant to be self-contained. Its effects should be evident in the behavior during the ensuing day. When observing a Jew conducting his daily affairs, you should be able to recognize that he has davenned (and davenned in a manner that a Jew should daven).

Therefore, the acceptance of the Mitzvah of ‘Ahavas Yisrael’ made before prayer should also influence one’s daily activities. In fact, then the stress on Ahavas Yisrael should be greater. In davenning, the concept is still abstract. In life, business, interpersonal communication, and eating, etc., you come into contact with other people and the expression of Ahavas Yisrael has to be concrete.

With this concept, particularly emphasizing the Yerushalmi’s comparison of the totality of the Jewish people to the human body, the Jew carries out his daily activities. Through expressing Ahavas Yisrael in even his mundane and routine affairs, in his everyday practicalities, he reveals in the world and to the world, G‑d’s Absolute Unity.

4. Since this service of Ahavas Yisrael and the other Torah and Mitzvos activities affect the world and reveal within the world G‑d’s Absolute Oneness, it follows that as that work proceeds, its effects cause the world itself to demand that it serve as vessel to reveal G‑d’s oneness.

The business world provides a suitable example. The history of business illustrates how the world has progressed from individuality towards unity. Previously, private companies had dominated the business world. Success was a product of man’s individual efforts.

Modern business reversed this trend, opting for corporate entities, combining the efforts of many. This pattern has allowed for increased coordination of the various stages of production, cut expenses, and added to the available markets. Though the Yetzer Hara argued such cooperation (and the decrease in fraud, theft, etc. which accompanies it) would lower profits, experience shows it maximizes them, demonstrating how unity has become part of the world’s internal system.

The evolutionary pattern undergone by the business world was paralleled in the sphere of science. A similar process of growth, emphasizing how G‑d’s Absolute Oneness has influenced the world, can be noticed (and to a greater degree, because science deals with the world abstractly).

Accordingly, the modern approach in science has been to seek theories of greater range, to search for a common denominator applicable in various, different situations. Likewise, an attempt has been made to cross disciplinary lines, to relate concepts from one field to a totally foreign area (e.g., physics to biology). Parallelisms and associations have been made between seemingly separate bodies of knowledge which has allowed for growth and advancement.

The closer we are drawn to the coming of the Mashiach, the more science has been able to demonstrate how an innate oneness (explained by Torah to be the oneness of G‑d) permeates every aspect of the universe.

(This radically different approach in science was foreseen in the Zohar’s prophecy “In the 600th year (of the sixth millennium) the well-springs of knowledge will open.” (7) At that time, there was an explosion of knowledge in the realm of Torah study which produced in turn, an explosion of knowledge in the sciences — allowing for the perception of oneness described above.)

5. The awareness of how plurality does not contradict (on the contrary helps express) unity (as explained above) should help a Jew appreciate the unity present when a number of Jews meet together. Even though they appear different, these differences are only superficial. In reality, all Jews, irrespective of their social or religious strata, are unified standing before G‑d:

At that point, as the verse say, we “join into a covenant with the L‑rd, your G‑d.” (8) A covenant is made by one taking an animal, dividing it into two separate halves, and then passing between them. The action expresses the concept that the two principals of the covenant become one entity. They may become divided, but only superficially, as the essential connection remains. Similarly, by entering into a covenant with G‑d the Jew becomes one with the Divine, in the prophet’s words “a part of G‑d from above.”