Let’s make 5778 the year of the rope.
This coming Shabbat in Parashat Ha’azinu which we will read on Shabbat Shuva, the Torah will declare to us: “Ki Chelek Hashem Amo Yaakov Chevel Nachalato” – “for the portion of the Lord is his people, Jacob is the measure of his inheritance”.
The word ‘measure’ in Hebrew is ‘chevel’ which actually literally means a rope and that’s because in ancient times the rope was used for measuring purposes. There was a standardised length of a rope, so if for example, you were to say the circumference of my field is 2000 ropes, people would understand exactly what you meant. There is, however, a far deeper message in these words. The Jewish people here are being compared by the Almighty to a rope.
You see, a rope is made up of quite a number of different cords which are twisted together to produce the rope. Each strand by itself is weak and can be broken very easily but once they are fused together within the rope it’s simply unbreakable. The Almighty wants us to know that if we are factionalised to the extent that we have so many splinter groups within our people, we will end up being a very weak nation.
The way forward for the Jewish people must be to have a rope styled existence, and this is a key sentiment that we are expressing now during our high holy days: “Vaye’asu Kulam Aguda Achat La’asot R’tzonecha B’levav Shalem – may the Jewish people produce one single bonded entity in order to perform your will with a full heart.”
We come together over these high holy days like one person with one heart to express the importance of the united Jewish people. Similarly, this is a message which will be conveyed through the key practice of the festival of Sukkot. We take the Arbah Minim, four very different kinds, and you can only make the bracha over them if they are bound together as one in our hands, symbolising the unity of the Jewish people.
The past year 5777 has been a painful one for many reasons, one of which sadly has been the totally unacceptable level of friction within Jewish circles. Such disunity has made us weak. Let’s guarantee that the new year, 5778, will be for all of us the ‘year of the rope’.
Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tovah