V’Zoth haBerachah: One Nation Under God

“And there was a King in Yeshurun (Israel), when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.” (Deuteronomy 33:5)

Rashi comments on this verse that only when the people of Israel come together to unite as one does HaShem (God), who is One, take His place over us as our King, but not when there is strife among the nation of Israel. On Rosh haShanah we declared HaShem our King, but that was only the beginning of a process. We did teshuvah, seeking forgiveness not just from HaShem for our shortcomings in serving him, but we worked to make amends with our fellow man, rectifying the wrongs we may have committed to one another.  On Yom Kipur, we were cleansed of our impurities, and immediately put into practice the repentance we had been professing with the festival of Sukoth that follows. The Torah commands us on Sukoth to unite the four species — lulav (palm), ethrog (citron), hadas (myrtle) and aravah (willow) — representing, according to our Sages, the unification of the different types of Jews, despite our differences. At the end of this festival of unity, we come to Simchath Torah, when we read the final Torah portion containing the above verse, declaring that HaShem becomes our King when we have united. If we have fulfilled our obligations correctly during these festival days, HaShem truly becomes our King at this time. Let us all put the lessons of these holy days into action, embracing our fellow Jew no matter what differences may lie between us, and celebrate as HaShem, our King, rejoices over us.

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