Solid Backing

“…..You are all Standing today before G-od, your G-od: the leaders of your tribes, your elders and your officers, every man of Israel, your young children, your women, and your convert who is within your camp, both your woodcutters and your water drawers. So that you may enter the covenant of G-od, your G-od…” – Devarim 29:9-11

אַתֶּם נִצָּבִים הַיּוֹם כֻּלְּכֶם לִפְנֵי ה’ אֱלֹקֵיכֶם רָאשֵׁיכֶם שִׁבְטֵיכֶם זִקְנֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם כֹּל אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל: טַפְּכֶם נְשֵׁיכֶם וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בְּקֶרֶב מַחֲנֶיךָ מֵחֹטֵב עֵצֶיךָ עַד שֹׁאֵב מֵימֶיךָ: לְעָבְרְךָ בִּבְרִית ה’ אֱלֹקֶיךָ – דברים כט, ט-יא


After the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people at Mt. Sinai, what was the purpose of yet another covenant with G-d? The commentaries (see Ohr Hachaim) explain that this covenant would bind and commit each Jew to guarantee his fellow Jew’s observance of the Torah’s commands, in addition to his own; as our Sages taught, “All of Israel are guarantors for each other” (Talmud, Shevuot 39a). Understandably, this covenant of mutual responsibility required the presence of all Bnei Yisrael, for they were each to become individually responsible for all the others.

Naturally, a guarantor is presumed to be in a better position resource-wise than the person he is backing, thus making him more dependable. For example, a poor person would never be accepted to guarantee a rich man’s loan. Considering then that “All of Israel are guarantors for each other”, we must conclude that each Jew listed here by the Torah, from “the leaders of your tribes” down to “your water drawers,” is gifted with a quality in which he or she is superior to every other, and can therefore serve as their guarantor.

This is the meaning of the statement in Likutei Torah (Nitzavim) that Bnei Yisrael are one solid unit, comparable to a complete human body in which every limb complements and completes the other. The head is obviously superior to the other limbs, but it is the legs which support the entire body, even the head. Likewise, every single Jew has an area in which he, and only he, can serve as a guarantor for all the others.

-Likutei Sichos, vol. 4, pp. 1140-1141


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