This past Thursday, the Orthodox community in Brooklyn, NY, showed the power of unity. The community’s representative in Albany, State Senator Simcha Felder, was targeted for doing what he was chosen to do; to be the voice of his constituents on matters which effect their lives and families.
With great courage and devotion, Senator Felder put the needs of the residents of his district before any personal political considerations. Despite pressure from his colleagues and party, he remained resolute and showed that he was a true servant of his people.
Some powers that be wished to punish his commitment by challenging his seat in the state senate. The stakes were high, as losing Senator Felder could possibly reduce the influence we wield as a community on matters of utmost concern. Our community knew what was involved and mobilized to ensure that everyone else, too, understood it as well.
Coming together in an unprecedented manner, askanim from all sectors worked on ‘Get Out the Vote,’ and the result, with the help of Hashem, was positive indeed. With more than two-thirds of the voters choosing Simcha Felder in last Thursday’s primary, we can be assured that the message of our unity was heard.
The mishnah in Rosh Hashanah (16a) tells us that in the judgement we are undergoing, every person passes by individually. Yet the Gemara (18a) quotes Rabi Yochanan as saying that they are all ‘viewed in one glance’. The commentaries question how these two opposites can co-exist? Are we judged individually, or as a group?
The answer offered by many is that there are two judgements involved. Certainly, an individual who possesses sufficient virtues can exit the Divine judgement on his own merit. Yet often, the individual’s accomplishments fall short. In such a case, he may be judged as part of Klal Yisroel, where the combined force of the nation can overcome the personal shortcomings of the individual. Through an association to the klal, one can merit the favorable verdict and bounty that Hashem bestows on the nation as a whole.
The Yerushalmi (Rosh Hashanah 1:3) explains “viewed in one glance” to mean that Hashem wishes that all the hearts should be united towards Him. The unification of the hearts of mankind, for the purpose of serving Hashem, brings about a favorable judgement for society.
Last week’s convergence of the community in favor of Senator Felder is a powerful asset as we approach the Yom Hadin. Who is to know if his individual actions are adequate to pass muster as we pass by to be judged by the One who “understands all their actions” (Tehillim 33:15)? Can anyone be confident that when scrutinized by the Heavenly Tribunal?
As Klal Yisrael joined hands to lend our support to Simcha Felder in his quest to represent us in the halls of power in Albany, we can feel assured that we, too, will receive a vote of confidence from the Kisei Hakavod for a gmar chasimah tovah.