My Rebbie, Harav Simcha L Weinberg, n’’y shared the following when discussing this week’s parsha, acharei mos. I found it to be most powerful and was a wakeup call to me.
“There is nothing greater, or of greater risk to the unity of the Jewish people than to say, “ I know how to serve HaShem better than other people!”
He explained how Rav Cook describes having a shul as being dangerous for just this reason.
“Even when all of us are gathered together, L’sheim Shamayim for the sake of heaven, in order to gather together and to Daven together, to learn together, to accomplish great things together, understand that if we begin to just feel that we are achieving something that other people cannot achieve, we are ripping limbs off the unity of the Jewish people, and we are going against The Will, The chaifetz HaShem, what Hashem wants!” ( Siddur Olas Rieeya Vol I: 227, Rav Cook)
As I was thinking about this during the week, an idea came to me that I thought can be most helpful to me especially when we are counting down for Matan Torah, and we have to face the realities of the loss of the students of Rabbi Akiva, and the fact that we really need a Bais Hamikdash, please Hashem.
One of the ten miracles that occurred in the Bais Hamikdosh was the ability of Klal Yisroel to fit in a space that technically was not large enough, yet everyone had room.
עוֹמְדִים צְפוּפִים וּמִשְׁתַּחֲוִים רְוָחִים– The people stood pressed together, yet bowed down and had room enough
The Bartenura on this verse describes this miracle as floating. He says the word צְפוּפִים, commonly translated as constricted means floating. As is in the word צָף , floating, He says that the Jewish people stood pressed against each other’s “brother” from the sheer quantity of the congregation, until “their legs were lifted up from the ground and they stood in the air”, This was the “floating”. He then describes another phenomenon as well. He says that when it came time to bow during prayer, they bowed with more than ample space to the distance of 4 Amos between each person. What was the reason this happened?
“So no one should hear his friend confess and remember his sins”.
The Bartenura uses the descriptions of brother and friend to describe the Jewish people.
Is it possible that what he is telling us, that their natural response was to consider the other person as a brother and immediately to to “float up in the air” making space for another to speak to not push and impose on another, with clarity that each person is truly a brother.
The second idea he offers of the reason for having 4 amos of space is so beautiful to me.
“So no one should hear his friend confess and remember his sins”. It seems to me that the degree of sensitivity and respect for another is what I am hearing from this. Is it possible that this is talking about people who lived within the boundaries of the daled amos of Halacha as a relationship and therefore they were able to have such Kavod Habrios? Is it possible that this is what it means to bow before Hashem, when we live with the reality of the daled amos of Halacha, meaning Hashem is invited? Is it also possible that when they lived in such a way, they took precautions and care to make sure to not hear anything to imply they are better than their friend?
I think that part of davening is the training , and the heart opener to recognize that we are all one.
May we be zoche to have a unified Klal Yisroel and redeemed without delay, Biezras Hashem.