Becoming one body

In this week’s Torah portion we learn that spies were sent to check out how they would conquer the land of Israel. The commentary Shem MiShmuel points out an interesting linguistic connection between the word avar and the word arev. Both words are composed of the same three letters only in a different arrangement.

Avar means to cross over. They crossed over the Jordan river to enter the land.

Arev means guarantor. In a deeper sense this word has the connotation of a mixture. Here in God’s land they are mixed together so to speak, as if they are one body. On the other side they were individuals. Once they cross the Jordan they’ve crossed the line from being individuals to being a nation. They were born as a nation when they were freed from slavery and they received God’s law but now they must live the normal life of a nation. If one person does not act properly, is not perfectly holy, it won’t just hurt him. It will hurt everyone.

It seems that this is one of the lessons that the Jewish nation is supposed to teach the world. The only thing is, we have to set an example of it ourselves first.

When you are not in your place, to each his own. You might want to help one another. That’s cool. But the other guy’s business is none of my business.

On the other hand if you want to be in God’s land you have to have unity, not because it’s a nice slogan but because the reality is that you have a common fate, that whatever one person does impacts the whole.

And from that place of God’s people realizing they are as one body, the message is supposed to get out to the whole world that we are all as one body. The differences between us are also real and need to be respected. An arm is not meant to do what a leg does and vice versa. But there is a spiritual unity to creation. Because one God created it.

What I’ve written in the past about a “collective mind” is related to this. We have to put all of our ideas together. We need to hear each other. We are connected by meaning.

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