By Rav Shmuel Brazil
The Apple Computer Company just recently released a new technology called the I Pad. Up until this point they brought us the I Pod the I Touch the I Phone and now the I Pad. Apple surely realizes that all these new technologies purposely being named with the first letter “I” will cause their sales to climb off the charts. After all who doesn’t have a self interest and does not want to possess a gadget that professes to bring out your I? As a youngster I remember vividly one of the most famous fairy tales of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and how each one would exclaim with tremendous “hakpadah” and anger that some guest was sitting in “their” chair or sleeping in “his” bed. Selfishness thrives more and more as it becomes the overwhelming primary middah of all cultures, while the word altruism has become almost extinct. It’s a very sad commentary on the human race when the news shows numerous videos of people getting run over by cars while the pedestrians just walk by that injured individual lying in the street apathetically without batting an eyelash. Another example of this slick sales pitch is “My Space” which at one time was very popular because it was all about ME and it placed me securely in fantasy land.
But even with all this, there came upon the horizon a vision of hope and salvation. Nintendo, one of the original Japanese companies of hand held tek games just came out with a new technology device of entertainment called the WE. One would have thought that this could now do the trick and redeem the world by bringing everyone back to a reality of selflessness and sense of tzibbur and community responsibility. But as would be expected, you cannot teach an old horse new tricks nor a decadent hedonistic world refined middos. Could you believe this when I tell you that they spell this device pronounced We as Wii! It is just incredible for not only do we have here one I but a double I! Even the “We” has become so distorted that it no more than the same “I” as before. Now take on the other hand the Yiddish language and the word “Iye”. It expresses the feeling of agony of an Oy Vay. Do you know why I and Iye sound the same? Because the Jewish people understand very well that when we focus only on the “I” and a life of taking and not giving, we will only end up with a situation of Iye. That is why Chesed and selflessness are the pillars of our daily lives.
Rashi in this week’s parsha quotes the famous Chazal on the passuk Vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar – ke’eesh echad belaiv echad – like one person with one heart. The Avnei Nezier asks why do Chazal make such a big fuss with the unity of Klall Yisrael when we find even by Mitzrayim the same concept as the passuk relates Umitzrayim nosaiah acharayhem that the Egyptians were journeying after Yisrael who were camped by the Red Sea. Here as well the Torah uses the singular term nosaiah and not noseem the form for the plural. And here too Rashi quotes the Chazal belaiv echad keesh echad – with one heart and like one man?
The Avnei Nezer answers by saying one has to be very meticulous and exacting in the words and order that Rashi quotes them. By Am Yisrael it describes their unity with first the word eesh echad one man, and only secondly does he mention with one heart. In contrast by Mitzrayim it precedes the oneness of heart before the oneness of man. This teaches us the fundamental difference between the concepts of unities of the goyim and achdus of the Yidden. All Yidden are essential one person with one united body bonding together with different limbs performing different functions to serve and facilitate the actualization of one’s desires. However by the goyim they begin their relationship by having one heart and desire because they are essentially disconnected from each other. It is only because of their common goal and enemy do they join forces together only to disunite at the accomplishment of their aims. It is then that we have found that when mission accomplished they have even turned against each other only to stab each other in the back. It was only a false unity from the very beginning unlike Am Yisrael who possesses a natural and inborn togetherness.
The Medrash Tanchuma explains on the infamous two words of Klall Yisrael at Matan Torah “naaseh venisham that they did not say in the singular eehseh ve’eshma – I will do and I will listen but rather naaseh We will do. The Medrash says that here Am Yisrael accepted “arvoos” responsibility for one another. It is at this point that they took upon their shoulders to ensure that their fellow Jew will be a shomer Torah and mitvah. Kol Yisrael araivim zeh lazeh [Sanhedrin 43b].
The Jewish term “We” is the real we of achdus and responsibility for one another, for his losses and lacking, feeling his pain and anguish, joining with his suffering and helping in his difficult situations. It is no comparison to some pseudo techno Wii whose only intention is to lead one to self absorption, self concern, self gratification and selfishness.