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Individual Citizen

Friday, 16 March, 2018 - 7:24 am

Am I primarily an individual or a part of the collective?

As an American it’s a relevant question.

As a Jew it’s a very relevant question.

Especially at this time of year when we prepare for Pesach.

Passover celebrates the exodus of the Jewish people from bondage in ancient Egypt. Certainly, as a member of the Jewish people it has meaning. But, does it have meaning to me as an individual?

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This week we begin studying the third Book of the Torah, Vayikra. It’s also the name of this week’s parsha.

In it we learn about various sacrifices, some communal and some individual.

The fact that G-d demands both personal sacrifices and collective sacrifices tells me something critical. My identity is unique. And nothing can replace that. But, I belong to a people, to a community.

When I cleave to my heritage as a Jew, I also reveal the most individualistic qualities that I possess.

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Leaving Egypt is not something that my ancestors did. Nor is it something that I celebrate annually as a part of the Jewish people.

It’s a personal experience. But, it’s one that is only meaningful as a Jew, as a part of a people.

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