Definition of Unity

October 29, 2010 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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In Jewish tradition one of the greatest ideals is unity and Shalom (peace). Harmony between husband and wife, respect between friends and communal solidarity generate blessing and success.

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

But achieving unity requires an understanding of its definition. Peace does not mean that everyone agrees and thinks the same way. Agreeing and seeing everything through the same lenses is singularity, not unity. True unity is when different people with multiple views and opinions work together for a common goal. Unity means that despite our differences we have mutual respect, care for each other, and the same fundamental values.  We share common overall goals – but might differ on how to reach them.

One of the Torah’s commandments is for Jewish males to don Tefilin every weekday on the arm and head. Tefilin are two leather boxes that contain four handwritten paragraphs which include the fundamentals of Jewish belief. In the ‘head Tefilin’ these paragraphs are inserted into four separate compartments on four separate pieces of parchment. However, in the ‘hand Tefilin’ they are all are written on one scroll. Why the difference?

The head symbolizes our power of intellect and cognitive processing.  The ‘hand Tefilin’, placed close to the heart, represents our emotions and feelings. That is why they are different. When it comes to the way we think, we cannot and should not always agree. Multiple opinions breed creativity, fresh ideas and depth of understanding.   We can and should have differences of the mind. But we must have one heart. With united feelings of love, respect and shared convictions, our differences can only enrich our togetherness in a more beautiful way.

A single instrument generates fine music. But an orchestra with many different instruments, all following one conductor and blending with each other, produces a beautiful symphony.

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