Alexis Gross, Cleveland, Ohio
Shabbat Shalom! This week’s parsha is huuuge. This is the parsha where Hashem gave us the Ten Commandments. It’s the parsha where the Jews camped by Har Sinai and where we were told that we were the chosen nation, and where we were told that we are the chosen nation. As the Torah says, “ויענו כל העם יחדו ויאמרו כל אשר-דבר הי נעשה וישב משה את דברי העם אל הי — All that the Lord has spoken, we shall do!” and Moses took the words of the people back to the Lord.
Look at the wording of this pasuk in the Torah. The people replied in unison. Unity is a major theme of this parsha. Later on, it is written in the parsha, “ויחן שם ישראל — And Israel camped there.” Here, the wording is referring to בני ישראל in the singular form as if they were one person. Rashi says that this denotes that the Jews encamped as one man with one heart — כאיש אחד בלב אחד”.
Unity amongst the Jewish people is super important, especially in this day and age, and, unfortunately, it is something they we often lack. Unity does not mean uniformity; we can be united without being the same person. Take this room as an example. We are all very different individuals, as we all know. This goes for both students and staff! Our backgrounds are unique, our interests are unique, and what we each want out of our year here is unique. But what unites us is that we’re all doing the same mitzvah. We are Machon Maayan. I’m Alexis from Cleveland, Ohio, you are A from B, you are a Y from Z, but together, we’re Machon Maayan. No matter where we end up next year, this specific group of people is always going to have this bond and connection. This is how I like to look at our nation: Since we were chosen and given the Torah, we always have had this connection as a people, but we just don’t always acknowledge it. We need to remember that even though we are scattered around the world, we are the chosen nation! We have to stay connected to each other and to Israel! By studying Torah for a year in Israel, we, Machon Maayan, are doing just that!
One of my teachers from Jewish day school said something to my class before we graduated eighth grade that has stuck with me ever since then. He said that this moment right here will never be the same, and it can never be repeated or recreated, even if we try. The fact that we are experiencing this year together will keep us connected forever the same way that we, as Jews, will always be connected to our nation through Torah and Hashem.