It is commonplace to say that we are unique. The flip side is that except for you, the world is composed of other people.
On Yom Kippur we confess in the plural. My sins matter, of course, and my soul is my own responsibility. But we do not move singly through the world. We are in a web of connections, changed by the actions of others and affecting them in turn.
The Torah teaches that God made a single human being, but also that immediately thereafter, the story becomes about family, community and nations. Our impulse to give, help and care is how we are made, what it means to be human. We shape each other’s lives as we grow each other’s souls.
In synagogue on Yom Kippur, look around. You share dreams and deeds, sins and sorrows with all the people you see, and many beyond those walls. Full Jewish prayer can only take place in community. In this great collective enterprise, we are responsible for one another. We are taught to care by our tradition, but it is also deep in human nature, designed for relationship by a loving God.
Rabbi David Wolpe is spiritual leader of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @RabbiWolpe. His latest book, “David: The Divided Heart” (Yale University Press), has recently been published.