You are standing this day before Hashem your G-d. All of you – the heads of your tribes, your elders…your small children, your women…from the wood-cutter to the water-drawer.
What is there not to understand about “all of you?” Why all the detail about different groups?
A Mishna in Avos gives us a clue. The world was created with ten maamoros/utterances. One could have done the job just as well. Hashem took ten utterances to do it, in order to exact retribution from evildoers who destroy a world that took so many utterances of G-d to create. Similarly, it increases the reward to tzadikim who uphold such a world.
Does this really make sense? Why artificially multiply the punishment of the evildoers? The actual worth of the world should be measured by the one utterance that could have sufficed to create our planet and everything in it?
Here is the explanation. The maamoros make human connection with HKBH possible to the widest range of people. If all of Creation had been telescoped into one ma’amar, very few people – perhaps one in a generation – could hope to attach themselves to it, and use it as a platform to grow to even greater spiritual heights. The kedushah of this single maamar would be incredibly powerful. It would be inaccessible to most. The ten maamoros form a graduated scale. Some are higher than others. Everyone, however, has an opportunity to latch on to one of the ma’amoros. Everyone is able to draw closer to Hashem through the maamar that is closest to his spiritual station.
While everyone gains from this system, it is especially beneficial to the tzadik. He is able to enlarge his sphere of influence broadly, throughout the community. Since no one is left behind, he can influence a much larger population of people who are somewhat connected to Hashem, and inspire them to nurture and grow that connection. Thus, he literally can uphold the entire world. On the other hand, the resha’im who fail to grab hold of the maamar closest to their nature effectively remove it from its role in the spiritual system of Creation. Stripped of one of its components, the system is compromised, weakened – in a sense, destroyed.
Returning to our pasuk, “this day” alludes to Rosh Hashanah. The capacity of everyone to attach themselves to Hashem has heightened meaning on this day of judgment. The pasuk therefore details the different groups within the nation, emphasizing that everyone has a place at the table.
The gemara depicts a line of people, passing one after the other waiting for judgment. Surprisingly, the gemara then insists that “they are all examined in a single glance.” How does an image of individual judgment jibe with an instantaneous assessment of all?
The gemara means that at the moment of the sounding of the shofar, all Jews merge together. Who can hear its call without trembling and returning to Hashem? In one instant, they all draw closer, elevating themselves together.
This togetherness is the Torah’s advice to us on how to successfully navigate the judgment we face. We need to become as one – a people united in our connection to Hashem, just as He designed a system to include everyone from the beginning of Creation.
- Based on Meor Einayim by R. Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl zt”l (in the Likutim section) ↑
- Devarim 29:9-10 ↑
- Avos 5:1 ↑
- Zohar, Pinchas 231a ↑
- Rosh Hashanah 18a ↑