Let My People Know

"Pulling out of the syndrome of this incurable disease"


The feeling of "I" is natural and self-understood. 

Every baby begins, at a very early stage in life, to try to coordinate the various parts of its body – even when it is not quite sure yet what should be done with each one of its limbs. 

When a baby is born, it possibly knows nothing. But unconsciously it feels that there is one "I," however dim and vague, from the tip of its toe to the top of its head. 

This "I" includes all kinds of limbs and parts: some beautiful ones and some foul ones. 

These parts fulfill various functions, some that I am interested in and some that I am not. Yet all that is "I." 

So long as this unified perception is there, there is existence.

Once it falls apart, existence ceases.

When we examine the state of the Jewish nation we see that this simile has both theoretical and practical implications. 

It is not just a statement made on the spiritual, ideological level: it also has practical conclusions. 

I am not talking about creating unity. 

Unity is a grandiose thing, a supreme cause, and God willing, the time will come in which we shall attain it. 

I am talking about something closer, which is also more essential: pulling out of the syndrome of this incurable disease, in which I cease to feel my "I," which includes the other as well. 

I may have a very negative view of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionists – but all of them are I. 

I may argue with all those people whom the late Prof. Leibowitz termed "desecrators of the Sabbath, who have sexual intercourse with ritually impure women, and eat non-kosher food" – but still, they are I. 

So long as this joint "I" exists, we have life. 

It is this all-inclusive "I" of the Jewish people – not a unified Jewish people, but a people that has an "I" of its own, that includes all its members – that we must not lose. 

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From an essay, "Achdut – Jewish Unity" by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz