Different but one

April 11, 2013 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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Central to the design of creation is that everyone is different…writes Rabbi Michoel Gourarie.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie

The Talmud states that G-d made sure that there are no two people look or think alike. While there is a uniform moral and spiritual code that we are expected to live by, we still all see and understand things differently. We all have different perspectives, opposing philosophies and opinions, many of which are neither right nor wrong – just different.

Unity does NOT mean that we all begin thinking alike. It does not mean that we begin agreeing on one philosophy and start to see things the same way.  True unity actually means the ability to connect with someone who is different to you. To get along with someone who thinks and feels the way you do is no big deal. The strength and power of unity lies in the ability to love and respect someone who disagrees with you. You might have strong convictions and will defend your position with a passion, but at the same time tolerate another view and perspective. Unity also means not to think less of anyone for not seeing the world the way you do.

There is a mitzvah for Jewish men to don Tefilin. The Tefilin boxes that are placed on the head and the arm contain four handwritten paragraphs from the Torah. However there is an interesting difference. The head Tefilin has the four paragraphs in four separate compartments, whereas the paragraphs in the hand Tefilin are in one single box.

The commentaries explain the difference in the following way. The head Tefilin placed next to the brain represents our intellect and ability to think. The Tefilin on our arm faces the heart, representing our feelings and emotions.

On the head there are four compartments because it is a positive thing to think differently. We must debate, discuss and disagree. But in the heart we must remain one. Our differences are intellectual, but our feelings for each other are what unite us.

So let us not work on becoming one. Let us develop the ability to be diverse but with one heart.

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