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Thought for the Day: G-d Is One/Yisrael Is One -- He Is Our G-d/We are His Nation

In the Holy Tongue there is a critical difference between a king and a ruler.  Both have absolute control  over their populace; up to and including the right and power to decide life and death.  The difference is that a king rules by mandate of his nation.  On ראש השנה we make השם King.  That is accomplished by our declaration in the mussaf service of His Sovereignty -- using verses from Torah, Prophets, and Writings explicitly describing His Sovereignty, recalling the Beneficence of His Sovereignty, and our announcing His Sovereignty via shofar blast -- topped off with actual shofar blasts.  Very powerful and moving.

So powerful and moving, that it is easy to miss that in the middle of the whole ceremony -- the last verse that is supposed to be describing His Sovereignty, in fact -- is:
שמע ישראל, השם אלוקינו, השם אחד/Harken, Yisrael; HaShem is Our G-d, HaShem is One!
A lovely sentiment, of course, but what does it have to do with making Him King?  First of all, it doesn't mention anything about a king.  In fact, this name of G-d -- which emphasizes His trait of strict justice -- is more related to being a ruler than a king.  Second, what are we (i.e,. Yisrael) doing in there; isn't this supposed to be about G-d?  Third, who cares if He is our G-d, isn't He everyone's G-d?  Fourth: what's with this "One" thing?  (Ok, ok... that's only tangentially related; its really a question on this statement in general.)

Obviously there is no way to answer all those questions in a few lines.  However, one thing is clear: The fact that HaShem is אחד/One, is King, and is the G-d of Yisrael are really different aspects of one underlying principle.  As we express throughout our prayers, declarations, and recitals during these Days of Awe: the recognition of HaShem's Sovereignty is part and parcel of recognizing that He cares about and interacts with His creation.  Klal Yisrael, as the nation that accepted His Torah, are His ambassadors and the Beis HaMikdash is His consulate.

The Maharal brings an amazing gematria from the word אחד to show just how intermingled recognition of HaShem and His Sovereignty is with recognition of Klal Yisrael and their unique mission.  אחד consists of three letters that correspond to three groups of Jews: א (gematria 1) symbolizes sheivet Leivi, the tribe that is particularly responsible for spirituality.  ח (gematria 8) is the number of sh'vatim that come from the two imahos Rachel and Leah, and form the core of Klal Yisrael (part of why we are called "Jews", after Yehuda).  Finally, ד (gematria 4) is for the sh'vatim that are descended form the sh'fachos, Bilha and Zilpah.who form the outer guard of the nation.

Hmm... there's that four again, at the fringes...


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