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Beit Midrash בית מדרש פרשת שבוע

“See” “before you” – Singular and Plural

Our parasha begins: “See (singular), I am placing before you (plural) today a blessing and a curse” (Devarim 11:26). Why does the pasuk start with a singular verb and switch to a plural pronoun? Apparently, it is to teach us about the double nature of service of Hashem, which applies both to the service of the individual and to the service of the public.
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Our parasha begins: "See (singular), I am placing before you (plural) today a blessing and a curse" (Devarim 11:26). Why does the pasuk start with a singular verb and switch to a plural pronoun? Apparently, it is to teach us about the double nature of service of Hashem, which applies both to the service of the individual and to the service of the public.

Regarding the individual, the Kuzari (3:5) describes the pious person as one who knows how to put every matter in its proper place. In other words, a person is a microcosm of a whole world, and the foundation of this world is that man should have dominion over himself. Even in the realm of "the rule of Torah," the "before you" (plural) of the communal comes after the "see" (singular) of the individual. Even if the public makes sure to have laws, this law and that law are of no value if each individual will not abide by them.

We have special sensitivity toward matters of the community, but if the individuals who comprise it are not taken care of properly, the community will not have anything either. Sometimes we speak about a just society, and yes sometimes we afflict the individual with a variety of claims based on the contention that the needs of the multitudes have precedence. It would seem that the idea of a state demands of the individual to make sacrifices for the nation. But this is not [always] so. There is a halacha that if a whole city is told that they must give over one person to be killed in order to save the whole city, one must not hand him over (Tosefta, Terumot 7:20). The value of the individual is not reduced even when there are many corresponding to him.

However, there is also another side to the picture. Some people do not see the special standing of the community at all and think that it is only about the individual. They reason that if not everyone can be on the level of some of the individuals, there must not be value to the community. They forget that only within the context of a community can the accomplished individual emerge. To the extent that the individuals give their all to the communal effort, the community as a whole can become elevated.

We pray for "long life," life that is not fleeting but rather that traverses various periods. A person should not have an outlook that just focuses on the moment. Certainly, the community must not be impatient. Without a doubt, had there not been impatience in Israel, we would have been able to more do for the country with the hope that it would bring a significant turn for the better.
More on this Topic Parashat Hashavua

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