United like Rain, Powerful like an Ocean by Eli Ginsberg


When his family’s food supply runs out, Ya’akov instructs all of his sons to travel south to Mitzrayim so that they can obtain food and deal with the famine. It seems somewhat absurd that Ya’akov would send all of his sons on this difficult mission to receive food. Why doesn’t Ya’akov simply send a few of his sons? It is for this reason – that people generally don’t travel in throngs to simply pick up supplies – that Yosef accuses his brothers of being spies. We must keep in mind  that this event takes place thousands of years before traveling to another country became as easy as booking a flight and, within hours, flying across the globe. Therefore, why does Ya’akov make all of his sons travel to Mitzrayim, burdening them not only with a tough journey but with the consequence of leaving the Holy Land for an extended period of time?

Perhaps Ya’akov is able to send only one or two of his sons, but chooses to send them all for a specific reason. He wants his family to experience Achdut, unity. If he sends only some of his sons, he would separate his family, something he doesn’t want to do even a brief period. By remaining together as a family, the brothers’ love for each other would be complete. This is what the brothers imply when they tell Yosef that they are “twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Kena’an” (BeReishit 42:13) – they stay together so that they will remain together. Rav Alter Chanoch Henoch Leibowitz explains that Ya’akov understands that unity is more important than any other Mitzvah in the Torah. Ya’akov’s command demonstrates that true success in learning Torah and doing Mitzvot requires Achdut Yisrael, unity amongst Bnei Yisrael.

True Achdut and strength in our nation cannot be accomplished without Ahavat Yisrael, love amongst the Jews. Even when the Jewish people are together and united, if they are fighting with one another, true unity has not been accomplished. In order to accomplish authentic Achdut, we must enhance our love of each individual Jew, regardless of religious background, affiliation, or personality. If he is a Jew, we already have a reason to care for him. He is one of us. We are all in this together.

Lessons from a Tragic Miscommunication by Rabbi Beni Krohn

Brothers, Candles and Unity by Alex Feldman