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E Pluribus Unum

Thursday, 9 June, 2016 - 1:16 pm

Family is an amazing phenomenon; all so different yet all the same. Everyone has a crazy uncle. Creating a family is the process of uniting females and males. For them to unite as one is taking two opposites and creating something beautiful called family.

Judaism values family as the foundation of a people; many families form the Jewish people. This is expressed regularly with the word Mishpocha which is used in shuls worldwide. This is also a motto of the United States, as seen on its seal: "E Pluribus Unum", Latin for out of many, one.

In this week’s Torah portion, when doing the census, the Jews were counted in the following manner: first by family, then by tribe and only then did they get the total Jewish population.  This was an expression of ‘out of many one’; out of the many families one nation was created. 

By the founding of the Jewish people, the Talmud says based on Genesis 12;5, that it took Abraham and Sarah together, two different individuals, to create a nation.

When the world was created, G-d did not refer to mankind until Adam and Eve were created (Genesis 5;2).

As we prepare to accept the Torah for the 3328th time, we must remember E Pluribus Unum.

It is only with the joint effort of the  women and men, each doing their unique mission as defined by the Torah, that keeps the Jewish nation an unbreakable people, like a united family.

The Torah’s narrative of the giving of the Torah is prefaced with “So shall you say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel” (Exodus 19;2). The Talmud explains that “the house of Jacob” refers to the women, the mainstay of the Jewish home, and “sons of Israel” refers to the men. Since the central location of Jewish practice is at home, first and foremost we need the buy in of the Aishet Chayil – the women of valor who perpetuates the Joie de yiddishkeit, the joy of Judaism. Only afterwards do the men get taught about Jewish practice.

Maybe this is why the Jewish people were counted based on family first, because this is the key to Jewish continuity.

So E Pluribus Tribus Unum Natio “out of many families, one people”

See you Sunday for the 10 commandments, details here.

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