Yakira Ossip, Melbourne, Australia
ויחן-שם ישראל נגד ההר — And Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain. (Exodus 19:2)
In the Pesach Haggadah, it is stated that “Had Hashem brought us before Har Sinai, but not given us the Torah, it would have been sufficient.” These words are confusing because why would Bnei Yisrael simply just arrive at Har Sinai if it wouldn’t have ended in receiving the Torah?
Rashi points out that the word “vayichan” is singular, despite the fact that the Torah was describing the encampment of millions of Jews. Rashi explains that at this particular encampment, the Jewish people were united — “as one man, with one heart” — כאיש אחד בלב אחד.
Upon arriving in the desert of Sinai, the Jewish nation put an end to all quarrelling, cleansing their hearts from all ill will, and they shared a deep love for one another. The unity that the Jewish people achieved would have been worthwhile, even had they not received the Torah!
For Bnei Yisrael to rise to its highest calling, for us to reach perfection, we must act as one entity, and not as a bunch of individuals. Furthermore, when people are united, G-d does not harm them. As we see in the story of the tower of Babel, the Torah tells us that G-d said, “Behold, they are one people with one language for all.” Since they were united, G-d did not destroy them. Instead, He said, “Come, let us descend there, and confuse their language.” Because they could not understand each other, the builders of the tower began to fight, became untied, and Hashem then harmed them.
Unity comes about when one puts his personal worries to the side and concerns himself with his friend. The difference between united and untied is where you place the “i.” When you place the “i” to the side and you are more concerned for your friend, unity is the result.
It is really special that all of us are here in Machon Maayan are from so many different countries around the world, uniting as Jews!