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By Rabbi Dovid Siegel | Series: | Level:

Yechezkel 37:15

In this week’s haftorah we read about the total unification of the Jewish people. The prophet Yechezkel was instructed by Hashem to obtain two blocks of wood and inscribe upon them the names of Israel’s two kingdoms, Yehuda and Yosef. Then Hashem said, “Hold them close to each other appearing as one and they will unite in your hands.” (37:17) The Radak interprets this to mean that after Yechezkel will hold them next to each other they will miraculously unite and become one solid piece of wood. He explains that this symbolism refers to the miraculous unification of the Jewish people during the era of Mashiach.

Each block of wood represents a distinct segment of the Jews, each being one of the kingdoms of Israel. Although Dovid Hamelech received an unconditional guarantee that his descendants would reign over Israel this did not preclude fragmentation of the Jewish kingdom. Therefore after his grandson Rechavom strayed seriously from the path of his predecessors a severe split in the kingdom did occur. Ephraim, a tribe descending from Yosef, led the Ten Tribes in a powerful revolution against the dynasty of Dovid Hamelech and broke away from the kingdom of Dovid, leaving behind only two remaining tribes, Yehuda and Binyomin. The split was so intense that the seceding camp of Yosef totally severed its relationship with Yehuda never to return throughout all the years of Israel’s reign. Yechezkel prophesized that these kingdoms will eventually unite and return to being one entity. Their unification will be so solid and permanent that there will be no trace left of their previous division. Their sense of kinship and unity will be so tangible that the Jewish nation will be likened to one piece of wood, free from any division or fragmentation.

The prophet continues and states in the name of Hashem, “And I will purify them and they shall be a nation to Me and I will be G-d to them…My Divine Presence will rest upon them…forever.” (37:23, 27) These passages refer to the final phases of our unity, Hashem’s unification with us. The time will eventually arrive when Hashem will return His Divine Presence to His nation. In the era of Mashiach all dimensions of unity will be achieved. The Jewish people will unite into an inseparable entity and Hashem will likewise reunite with us. His unity with us will be likened to ours within ourselves, an everlasting and inseparable one.

It is worthwhile to focus on the specific order in which these unities are foretold. The first step is the unification of the entire Jewish nation and then, and only then, Hashem follows with His unification with His people. The Sefer Hacharedim (chapter 5) shares with us an important perspective regarding this order. He reflects upon the distinct nature of Hashem’s oneness and explains that His oneness can only be appreciated through the oneness of the Jewish people. If we are fragmented and divided into factions our perception and experience of Hashem will be, by nature, one of division. Each segment of Jewish people will view Hashem from its perspective and the sense of Hashem’s perfect oneness will never be seen. Hashem’s brilliant radiance which is reflected through His Torah will appear divided and fragmented. Understandably, Hashem who is one by definition cannot unite with us until we achieve perfect unity, allowing proper expression for His perfect oneness. The lesson of the Chareidim reveals that, in essence, our perfect unity within ourselves is a prerequisite for Hashem’s unity with us.

In actuality, the foundation of these unities was established in this week s sedra. Yosef, through his brilliant scheme, succeeded in silencing his brothers’ suspicions and fears and convinced them of their grave misjudgment of him. Once their deep-seeded jealousy and hatred was exposed and removed, the sons of Yaakov united with Yosef and embraced one another. After all these painful years, Yosef and Yehuda were finally united into one family and a true sense of kinship and unity was felt. Although much damage had occurred and a split in the Jewish people was inevitable at some point, the groundwork for unity had already been established. Through Yosef’s accomplishment of bringing the family together, the total unity of our people will eventually be achieved.

The immediate and direct result of Yosef’s accomplishment is recorded in this week’s sedra. After Yaakov discovered that his son Yosef was alive and well, the Torah states, “And the spirit of their father, Yaakov was restored to life.” (Beraishis 45, 27) Rashi (ad loc) quotes Chazal who explain that Yaakov’s spirit here refers to the return of Hashem’s Divine Presence to Yaakov. Due to Yosef’s absence from Yaakov’s household Hashem’s Divine Presence ceased to rest upon Yaakov. Now, after twenty-two long years the household of Yaakov was finally reunited and the Divine Presence of Hashem returned to Yaakov. This final result is indicative of the future experience of the Jewish people. They will also be divided for thousands of years and Yosef and the Ten Tribes will be lost from Israel. This division, as in the days of Yaakov will force Hashem to remove His presence from amongst the remainder of Israel. But the time will eventually come for the Jewish people to reunite and the kingdom of Yosef and Yehuda will become one inseparable entity. In response to this miraculous development of unity Hashem will return His Divine Presence to the Jewish people and the spirit of Israel will be revived forever.

This lesson is so apropos for our times where so much diversity exists amongst our people. We pray to Hashem for unification amongst ourselves, ultimately yielding our unification with Hashem and the return of His Divine Presence amongst us forever.

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