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Beit Midrash Series Ein Ayah

(condensed from Ein Ayah, Berachot 9:231)

The Goal of One

Various RabbisShvat 5773
262
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Gemara: Rabbi Akiva was stretching out the word "echad" (one) until his soul departed in one.

Ein Ayah:There are many extensive, intensive, and detailed mitzvot in the Torah. However, the general rule that emanates from them is that the whole apparatus of laws is designed to ultimately teach that Hashem is one. The reason that a Jew is required to give his life for mitzvot, which includes all the mitzvot at the time of a decree of the enemies, is related to the teaching that Hashem is one. The existence of the Nation of Israel, in its full characteristics and spirit, is important for Hashem because it ensures the idea of knowing Hashem’s oneness in all its purity. The many mitzvot are there to ensure that these characteristics survive unchanged even during difficult times when Jews are in danger of assimilating among the other nations. They must remain recognizable as the blessed offspring of Hashem. Therefore, the individual’s willingness to give his life for the Torah’s values is related to the oneness of Hashem
After the brave act of teaching Torah publicly at a time that the government forbade it and tried to cause the ideal to be forgotten, Rabbi Akiva wanted to end off things in the proper manner. He, therefore, demonstrated that the Torah he had taught, with all its details, was all related to the knowledge of the oneness of Hashem. That is why he elongated the word "echad" and died on that note of oneness.


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