The Torah portion of Nitzavim is always read on the Shabbat before Rosh Hashana.
It begins: “You are standing this day, all of you, before the L-rd your G-d, your heads, your tribes, your elders… all the men of Israel, your children and your wives … that you should enter into the covenant of the L-rd your G-d.”
With these words, Moses brought the Jewish people into a state of collective and mutual surety. Indeed, our Sages declared, “All Jews are guarantors for one another.”
Let us examine the concept of surety more closely.
What exactly is a guarantor, and who is eligible to act as one? According to logic, only a person who is superior to another in a certain respect can provide a guarantee. Consider the example of the poor man who has requested a loan. The lender cannot rely on the poor man’s ability to pay him back, so he asks for a wealthy guarantor as collateral. This way, the lender is assured that he will be repaid.
Conversely, it would be illogical to expect a poor man to act as guarantor for a rich man’s loan. This would not make sense, as the poor man has less money to begin with.
What, then, are we to make of the fact that “All Jews are guarantors for one another”? How is it possible that even the lowliest individual can act as guarantor for the greatest?
Commenting on the verse “You are standing this day, all of you,” Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chasidut, explained that Jews comprise a single entity. Metaphorically speaking, the Jewish people form one body, with each individual Jew being an integral part of the whole.
A physical body is composed of many organs and limbs, each one of which serves its own unique function. That the head is superior to the foot is obvious, but without the foot, the body is incomplete. A defect in the foot affects the entire person; the head suffers if any of the body’s limbs are flawed. In order to exist as a healthy entity, the body requires all of its organs to be in prime condition and to work in consonance.
So too is it in regard to the Jewish people. There are many different types and categories of Jews. Some are on the level of “head,” while others may be said to be the “feet.” Nonetheless, each and every Jew is of inestimable value, an essential part of the Jewish people without whom the “body” of Jews would be incomplete. For this reason, all Jews are “guarantors for one another,” as each individual possesses unique qualities which are necessary for the health and integrity of the whole.
True unity is only possible when all Jews stand together as one. Not only does this require the participation of our “heads,” “tribes” and “elders,” but the “hewers of our wood” and “drawers of our water” are no less important. Moshiach NOW!!!