Excerpted from Rebbetzin Tziporah Heller’s Question and Answer series on Naaleh.com
I’ve seen girls that were lumped together and told to be friendly and it backfired badly. It bothers me because it was all in the name of achdut (unity). What is the Torah perspective and where does achdut fit in here?
Our world is enormously complex. Every creation has its own purpose, structure, and reason for being, with the common goal of revealing Hashem’s glory. If you compare a lion to a frog they are different, but they share one characteristic – they affirm Hashem’s greatness. The mission of a Jew is to interpret the world and find Hashem’s glory in every person, creation, or situation he encounters. Every Jew is part of the collective of Klal Yisrael and together we can give interpretation and meaning to existence.
The verse says concerning the Jews, “Becha etpaer,” I take pride in you. When you meet another Jew, ask yourself, How does Hashem take pride in him in a way that is different than how He takes pride in me? How can I really know this person? What is his unique contribution to the world? How can I learn from him?
Achdut can occur when you ask, “Where do I see Hashem’s honor in this person?” His glory may be hidden under layers of pride and sinfulness. Your job is to see through that facade so that you and the person can resonate by tapping into the tzelem Elokim (Divine Image). This is really what achdut means, seeing the spirituality within another person and feeling one with him.
Viewing different sectors within Klal Yisrael and seeing what is unique, admirable, and beautiful, without necessarily feeling you have to be a part of that particular group, is achdut manifested in reality. This is the way true tzaddikim looked at other Jews and this is what we should aspire to.