Unity from Acceptance

†† One year a plague hit the yeshiva of Rabbi Akiva.Of the 20.000 students, 18,000 were killed by the plague.How Could such a thing happen to such a large group of devout scholars and students?It is said that some were devoted to prayer. Others to study.Their problem was that those devoted to prayer were contemptuous toward those devoted to study and vice versa.Each thought that only their way was correct and the others were inferior.1


†† All souls are not the same.Each has characteristics based on its origin.Some people have a soul characterized by kindness.Others have a more strict nature.G-d has given each soul for a reason and each soul originates from a different area for a reason.††


†† It is too easy to criticize someone else for the characteristics that he does and does not have.However, to criticize someone because G-d made him with those strengths and weaknesses is wrong.To do so is to criticize G-d who made him.


†† For example, people who are kind may wrongly criticize others for being strict.††† They are not wrong for their strictness though they may need to temper their strictness with kindness.In the same way, the kind may need to temper their kindness with strictness.A judge who is only merciful may be great to dismiss a parking ticket.However that same mercy is not good when he sets free a rapist who then commits another rape.


†† This is true not just about individuals but also groups.††† One group thinks that they alone follow Halacha.Another group thinks that they have the right way.Instead of looking at the good that each accomplishes, they put up walls.This causes a lot of the disunity among Jews.Perhaps the people in one group have been given souls that are attracted to that groupís style.The people in another group are given souls that are attracted to the opposite style.


†† We are to be united.Unity does not mean uniformity.It does not mean everyone being the same.It is not from everyone using the same prayer book, it is not from everyone emphasizing the same mitzvoth.


†† Unity comes not just from accepting differences but also from understanding that G-d is the source of those differences. G-d made different people with different characteristics.If we want G-d to work in this world than we have to accept.Not accept the bad characteristics of each other but accept the good parts.Identify and accept those good parts.Rabbi Akivaís students were not decimated by the plague because they had differences, it was because they would not accept those differences.


†† The goal is unity.The right hand needs the left and the left needs the right in order to be a whole being.

1. Yevamos 62b






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