The Communal Nature of Judaism



Judaism can certainly be preserved by an isolated family, with no community, shul or rabbi, and retain the vitality that it has had for generations. Only through communal life, however, can it achieve perfection.

The power of community is well known. Cooperation results in something greater than the sum of individual accomplishments in nearly every aspect of life. Historically, communities have come about because individuals believed they were more likely to achieve their personal goals if they joined forces with others.

The Jewish concept of community, however, transcends mere practicality; it enables a second dimension of spirituality for all community participants. That is because there are two distinct dimensions to serving Hashem—that of the individual and that of the community. Serving Hashem collectively as a community is, in fact, the loftier form of worship. Hashem designed our religion as He did in order to reside within a community. Religious activity focuses not only on bringing Hashem directly into each individual’s life, but also on bringing Him into the community as a whole. Thus each person’s association with the community is an important aspect of his or her connection to Hashem.

After realizing Hashem’s expectation of us to worship Him from within a kehilla, dedication to one’s community becomes necessary for self-actualization. It becomes obvious that part of a Jew’s personal potential can only be realized by helping to make the community’s values a reality. Ideally, every Jew should internalize this principle and be willing to sacrifice for the community. Those who are totally dedicated to this principle may become leaders of the Jewish people. Moshe demonstrated such selflessness when he said, “Please forgive the people or kill me” (Berachos 32a; Ralbag Ki Sisa 32:32). Aharon was prepared to bear the brunt of the responsibility for the eigel hazahav to spare the nation accountability (Vayikra Rabba 10:3). Similarly, Yona disobeyed Hashem in order to save the Jewish people.

Kehillas Shivtei Yeshurun is blessed with many individuals who are dedicated to promoting the common cause, even at great personal sacrifice. All pool their resources to promote Torah, avodah and gemilus chasadim: knowledge of Jewish law and thought, practical observance of these laws, and the practice of brotherly love towards one another. Our members share the belief that the community gives meaning to their lives.

This is Judaism at its best. Such unity not only gives strength and permanence to the kehilla

It is a privilege to be a part of a kehilla that recognizes the importance of the communal nature of Judaism.

BookID: 6 Chapter: 32

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