This week’s Torah portion has Moshe assemble the Jews and has them all standing there, shoulder to shoulder. Moshe addresses them: [29:9] Atem Neetzavim Hayom – you are all standing here today, before G-d…your leaders, your elders, your law enforcers…your children, your wives, your converts…your water shleppers.”
Moshe was sending a message to all of us that there is no man or woman, no adult or child, who can have the attitude of “I’m more important to G-d than you.” And none of us can have the self-defeating attitude of ‘what am I worth’. “Lifnay Hashem” standing in front of G-d, we are all equally valued.
The Ramban sent an epistle to his son that many recite and to whose precepts many try to adhere. The Igeres HaRamban outlines that humility is a necessary component to Avodas Hashem, to really serving G-d. And he tells his son that one may not speak to or even look at another person with hauteur.
We are told Moshe brought home this message of individual importance to our nation by creating a structure of stones where any one stone pulled out of the structure would bring the whole monument crashing down. He told them, thereby, that no person is expendable. We need each other.
When teaching preteens one summer, I wanted to get it across to them. I used the example of interlocking ropes that would hold them up, small stretches of coiled hemp knotted to each other. And when they were swinging from it, high above the ground, which one of the ropes did they think I could just snip out, which part of the rope did they think was unnecessary in holding them up? They all would yell out that every single one of those rope pieces ought to be kept in place or they would crash to the ground!
There is a cute party trick that seems to defy gravity. A quartet of folks recline on chairs, but rest their heads on another person. The chairs get pulled out and, walla, the folks remain suspended in reclining position, with no chairs beneath them, just the cooperative support of each other. You can watch it here: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x4zck0_cool-party-trick_shortfilms
That is the “doogmah” the example of our nation. We need each other. We must never degenerate or debase each other. For each one of us is needed and beloved.
Here is a link to read the Igeres HaRamban: http://www.pirchei.co.il/specials/ramban/ramban.htm