Friday, September 9, 2011

David's Shield - A Call for Unity


(This article first appeared on

If you are a Jewish male, you either wear a kippa (yarmulke, skull cap) or you don’t. If you do wear a kippa, it may be crocheted, suede, colorful or just plain black or white. Or maybe you just wear one for that special occasion; your son’s Bar Mitzvah or your nephew’s Brit Mila (circumcision), or possibly not at all. If you’re a married Jewish woman, you either cover your head or you don’t. It may be that you wear a hat, a headscarf, a ‘sheitle’ (wig), or a ‘snood’ but it could be that you only cover your head when going to ‘shul’ (synagogue) or maybe not at all. Your head coverings and clothing styles may classify you by what you have taken upon yourself, and the path you have chosen, but by definition, we are all Jews. Whether Chassidic, Charedi, National Religious or non-observant, we are all one big family.  And like any family, it requires a lot of tolerance, understanding and emuna to keep peace in the home. If we want HaShem’s blessings and protection, we must make peace amongst ourselves a top priority.

The Jewish People is somewhat like mushroom, bean and barley soup. All the ingredients are very unique, special and necessary. Together they incorporate the proper flavor, texture and nutrients, maximizing the end result. Without each and every item, it just wouldn’t be mushroom, bean and barley soup. Similarly, without every element of the Jewish People, we would not be able to complete the task at hand, that of being a “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6). Everyone, despite their background or present level, has something invaluable to contribute. It is therefore incumbent upon each of us to look for the good in others and appreciate our differences.
Regardless of one’s religious or political affiliations, there is one sign which is universally accepted as a Jewish symbol ~ the Magen David, Star (or Shield) of David. Jews the world over, wear this emblem on a chain close to their hearts.  As well, many Jewish items proudly display this logo of old. On the surface, this symbol is simply a representation of the shield that King David used in battle. But when one delves deeper into its significance, the results are very profound.
The Magen David is made up of two triangles, one over the other with six points. If one compares these conjoined triangles to the Jewish People, it illustrates how we are melded together as one, yet with each sector maintaining its own ‘point’. Our views and interpretations may extend in different directions, but the center, The Torah, is where we unite. The Star of David is representative of the number seven by counting 6 points plus the center. The number seven is very important in Judaism, one central reason being the commandment to observe the Sabbath (Shabbat): six days of Creation followed by the seventh day of rest.
The Magen David is often blue in color, as on the Israeli Flag. While the blue of the flag was chosen by man, blue is essential to the Biblical directive for the tzitzit (fringes) that men wear, one thread of each corner to be dipped into the extraordinary and rare blue techelet dye. “And they shall place upon the tzitzit of each corner a thread of techelet.  And you shall look upon it and remember all of the commandments of Hashem and you shall do them," (Bamidbar 15:38, 39). As well, the design of the Israeli flag with two blue stripes on either side of the star was inspired by the “Tallit” (prayer shawl) which Jewish men of all persuasions wear during prayer. And when the time comes, in preparation for burial, this same Tallit, if it fits the specifications, may be used to wrap his purified body.
G-d Himself has been referred to as David’s Shield as seen from the Blessings of the Haftarah recited on Shabbat and Festivals ‘Blessed are You, HaShem, Shield of David’. When HaShem shielded David in battle and during his flight from Saul, King David was inspired to write these verses of Tehillim (Psalms) Thou hast also given me Thy shield of salvation’ (18:36) and “He is a shield unto all them that take refuge in Him” (18:31)  
It is no coincidence that the connection between our People and David’s Shield, the Star of David, is one of vast proportions. It is through David HaMelech’s progeny that Moshiach will arise and save us. Today, when the need for G-d’s protection and salvation is immeasurable, we must unite together in a mosaic of sweet harmony. As Rebbe Nachman, of blessed memory, said, “Every single Jew has in him a portion of God above” (Likutei Moharan 35:1). If we can just put our differences aside and gather all those sparks of holiness, the results will be astounding!
We each believe our way is the right way, which is acceptable as long as our goals are for the sake of Heaven. But if each one of us will commit to reaching out to someone with a differing view, and internalize that we are all brothers and sisters, we will merit altering the universe. In the end, when Moshiach comes to redeem us, he will bring with him all the answers we so desperately crave and we will finally unify in a world of Peace, Truth and HaShem’s Eternal Light. G-d willing, may it be soon in our days, amen!