"You are the sons of Hashem your G-d-- do not scratch the skin in the way
idol worshippers do"[Debarim 14, 1]
The Midrash explains the word "Titgodedu" [to scratch the skin until blood
flows] to be a reference to "formation of groups" from a similar sounding
word "agudah". What is the intention of the Midrash?
The story is told that the Hafetz Haim was once approached by a man who
complained to the great Sage, "Why is it that the Jewish people have so
many different ways to say our prayers to G-d? The Hassidim sing and clap,
the Europeans pray in the Ashkenazi style and the Middle Eastern peoples
pray in the Sephardic manner. Wouldn't it serve G-d better if we all prayed
in the same way?"
The Rabbi patiently replied, "You should actually be asking the Czar of
Russia this question. Why is it that the Czar has so many different types
of soldiers in his armies-- infantry, cavalry, sailors and air force?
Wouldn't it be better and more efficient to have just one type of soldier
in the Czar's troops? Wouldn't it be more efficient and less troublesome to
have one kind of uniform and the same equipment for all of your servicemen?"
The proposal is, of course preposterous. Each type of soldier serves a
different purpose and can accomplish what the other cannot in order to
bring success to the Czar. Each branch of service needs its own special
equipment. The main thing is that at the end of the day victory is secured.
As a people, our job is to serve G-d by revealing His desire for the
ethical and purposeful performance of human endeavors. Our army is fighting
against the forces of evil, dishonesty and immorality. Each person was
given different "weapons" with which to perform his or her role in the
"General's" strategy for ultimate victory. Each of us has a job to do which
is different than the others. We must never lose sight of the fact that all
of us are on the same team, the same army, serving the same G-d with the
As the Jewish people face crisis and siege in our Holy Land and as Jews
around the world face the enemy in his many guises we must all do our best
to support each other and do our part in the battle against spiritual
holocaust and physical annihilation.
We are one team.
DID YOU KNOW THAT
So as not to violate the prohibition against carrying in the public domain
on Shabbat, one should not go out with a jacket draped over one's shoulders
placing one's arms through the sleeves) because it is not the normal way of
wearing the garment. Even on hot days one should not be lenient in this
matter. Even in places where there is an "erub" it is better to wear a
jacket in the regular way. In any event one who is lenient in regard to
this has authorities on which one may rely.