It is said that even if Hashem did not give us the land of Israel and the Holy Temple, just bringing us to Mt. Sinai would be enough. The famous question is asked: what do you mean, it would be enough? The whole point of bringing us to Har Sinai is to give us Torah, which we would keep in Eretz Yisroel. The answer is that it would be enough, because when Jews received Torah, they were unified as one person. (We learn that Jews were tired before receiving of Torah. Why were they tired? Because it took them an effort to become unified. We learn from this that Jews get their strength from argument, which is why the main pastime of a frum Jew is to learn Gemara and argue.)
Being unified “would be enough”, because unity amongst Jews results in the unity between the holy Names of G-d, between Him and His Presence, and between Him and this world. (For a detailed kabbalistic explanation of this process, see Derech Mitzvosecha, mitzvas Ahavas Yisroel. Suffice it to say that each Jewish soul contains sparks from all the other Jewish souls, and unification “below” draws forth the unification “above”.)
This is why it is said that loving your fellow as yourself is the basis of the whole Torah. The point is not so much that the purpose of Torah is to bring peace amongst people (how exactly does putting on tefillin result in peace?), but that all Torah mitzvos accomplish the same thing that the single mitzva of ahavas Yisroel accomplishes: unity between G-d and His Presence in this world. And this is the whole purpose of creation and giving of Torah.
Now, the concept of unity is a tricky one. How can two separate entities become unified? This problem of disunity existed throughout the history of creation and of Jewish people. It all started from shviras ha’keilim, the breaking of the vessels of the chaotic world of Tohu (don’t worry, I won’t talk about that in detail now). The sfiroes of Tohu did not get along, couldn’t cooperate, each thinking of itself as the most important one — and kabloom! Chernobyl b’ruchnius.
And the story repeated itself many times and indeed still goes on today. The theme of disunity is the theme of Omer. As everyone knows, the students of Rabbi Akiva quaralled, had no respect to each other, and a plague sent by G-d and augmented by socialized healthcare system killed many of them, r"l, in this very period of time.
But what does it mean that they quarreled? These were the greatest sages of their generation, and they couldn’t get along? What were their disagreements about? What were the disagreements of the Jews in the desert about that they had to put aside to receive Torah? Now that we are writing a string of questions, what was the deal with the sferoes of Tohu? We shall examine these answers after the commercial break.
The Rebbe writes in the sicho devoted to Lag B’Omer that you can’t really blame the Jews in the desert, the spheroes, the students of Rabbi Akiva. They were not arguing about petty matters. They were not practicing sinas chinum. They didn’t care about chitzoinius (“your shtreimel looks worse than my hat”). Each of them had a shitta. Each of them had a job to do, a role that they played. And they took that job seriously.
Think about it: if Chessed is merciful, and it’s taking its own job as the source of mercy seriously, how can it tolerate Gevurah? What do you mean, gevurah? Chessed! And Gevurah had the same attitude. In order to “live and let live”, to “agree to disagree”, one has to take a slightly mild view of one’s own shitta. Look at it with a bit of sense of humor. And these guys couldn’t afford doing that. They were responsible agents of their missions. The sages really believed, each of them, that they were right. Of course, each one of them was, but it’s all nice and good for us, sitting here in our b’dieved armchairs, to say “eilu v’eilu”. For these people, their shittos were their whole world.
So, what is one to do? Well, says the Rebbe, this is a serious problem. This is not just a problem for the sages or spheroes or the Jews in the desert. This is a problem for any two people that are trying to create a relationship. Any kind. Two friends, two colleagues, a husband and a wife, a parent and a child, etc. How can two people become one? What do you mean, one? If I am X, I am X. I cannot be Y. I can tolerate Y. I can respect Y. I can agree to disagree, even, but to be absolutely completely unified with Y? But then what happens with my identity, my “job” (which I take seriously) of X?
Elsewhere (Inyanei Toras HaChassidus), the Rebbe explains that giluim (revelations) of G-dliness are always in conflict with each other. Because, as explained above, in order for each gilui to be itself, it must be itself and nothing else. Gevurah is Gevurah. End of story. That is why we can’t eat meat with milk. Meat is Gevurah; milk is Chessed. They don’t mix well.
But the Essence of G-d, says the Rebbe, does not have that problem. Because the Essence includes all the revelations in itself (in potential). So, when the Essence is brought into play, no threat to the identities of individual revelations happens — and they can co-exist. Which is why G-d Himself can disobey rules of logic and do things that are mutually exclusive. Which is why, when Moshiach comes and G-d’s Essence is revealed (may it happen now), there will be no contradiction between the fact that G-d is revealed (which, under normal circumstances, would destroy this world) and, at the same time, the world exists and is a world, with its physical matter. (And, incidentally, we shall be allowed to eat meat and milk together.)
So, what’s the solution to disunity? Bring G-d into the equation. When the spheroes gain the awareness that each of them is not just Chessed or Gevurah, but Chessed and Gevurah that are each doing a job for G-d, this awareness allows them to co-operate, since each of them is doing essentially the same thing (serving G-d), albeit in a different way. The deepest identity of Chessed is not its vessel, but its Light, and the whole point of the Light is the idea that it’s on a mission from G-d (“light reveals the luminary”). Furthermore, this co-operation allows them to do their jobs better. And voilá, the world of Atzilus (aka Tikkun) is here. Jews are given Torah. Sages stop dying.
And two people become one. This is the only way. In order for a relationship to be that of true, absolute unity, not just tolerance, one needs to bring G-d into it. G-d in the relationship is what allows the two people to become completely one and at the same time each retain his-or-her unique identity.
Gutt Yom Tov, y’all. May we merit to see speedily the time when the greatest unity of all possible is achieved: that between G-d and His nation, with the coming of Moshiach.