Kenneth Cohen

Jewish Unity

The Ari Z’l, a very saintly rabbi of the sixteenth century, commented on a difficult Midrash. The angels in Heaven, asked Hashem why the Jewish people suffered so much over the generations. They suffered expulsions, exile, pogroms, and Holocaust. G-d’s answer was simply that there is no peace among them.

Rav Yitzchak Luria (the Ari z’l) expanded on this and focused on the words, דברי ריבות בשעריך, “matters of dispute in your gates.” The simple interpretation of these words is that when there is a dispute, one should go to court to settle the dispute.
However, these words have a deeper meaning. Because of constant disagreements among our people, and the lack of unity, we suffered as we did, over the generations.

After beginning as a nation on Mount Sinai, when we were, “one man, one heart,” we saw the power we have as a people when we are united. How foolish can we be not to realize how much we harm ourselves as a people, when we fall into factionalizing, and divisiveness. We are shooting ourselves in the foot. Dissension among Jews is harmful beyond words. We need to remind ourselves that when we speak or even think badly of other Jews, we are bringing harm to the entire nation.

When we are unified, no power on earth can touch us. This should be so obvious, but, sometimes, the most obvious, alludes us. This message must be shouted out-especially as we approach an election where divisiveness runs rampant. “Achdut,” Jewish Unity, must be our collective priority.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at