Let My People Know

"The concept of Israel means me"

“In terms of responsibility to God and doing His will through mitzvot, the concept of Israel means, first of all, me.

When one recites in prayer, “Who chooses His people Israel with love,” one is not thinking of the chief rabbi, but of oneself.

When one says, ‘You alone will we worship with awe and reverence,’ one is also not thinking of any official body at the head of the community, but, again, of oneself.

In other words, when one says ‘we’ in this context, or ‘we Jews,’ or ‘we, the People of Israel,’ one means ‘I’ or, at least, primarily ‘I’.

As it was once expressed by a Tzaddik, ‘A person should pray in the synagogue as though he were in a forest, with a tree here and a tree there, and feel that he alone is communicating with God in worship.’

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From Pebbles of Wisdom from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz (forthcoming)