Friday, August 26, 2016

The individual as part of the whole

In Parshas Ekev, we get an injunction that echoes the word of Shma, prompting Rashi to ask about the apparent repetion and answer that there it was for an individual and here for the tzibur
[To love the Lord…] with all your heart, and with all your soul: But did he not already admonish us, [by the words]“[And you shall love the Lord, your God,] with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. 6:5)? [That, however, was] an admonition addressed for the individual, [while this is] an admonition to the community. — [Sifrei] בכל לבבכם ובכל נפשכם: והלא כבר הזהיר על כך (דברים ו, ה) בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך, אלא, אזהרה ליחיד אזהרה לצבור:

My grandfather asks why it is necessary, for if every individual is wanred, doesn't that cover the tzibur?  
He references Ramban's suggestion that the miracle of rain is determined by the actions of the majority of the nation. But he believes that there is another aspect to reward and obligation that this teaches us. An individual does not fulfill his duty just by doing what he has to do on his own; he also is responsible for the community. Consequently, it does happen that an individual is trapped at time by the sins of the generation. That's the concept of what Chazal says, "Oonce there is permission granted to the force of destruction, it doesn't distinguish." From the general perspective, that looks at judgement for the whole, the particular individual would not emerge unscathed as an innocent because of the failure of the general group that he is part of. This is the concept of arvus. 

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