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'' You are the sons of Hashem your G-d-- do not scratch the skin in the way idol worshippers do"[Debarim 14, 1]
The Midrash explains the word "Titgodedu" [to scratch the skin until blood flows] to be a reference to "formation of groups" from a similar sounding word "agudah". What is the intention of the Midrash?
The story is told that the Hafetz Haim was once approached by a man who complained to the great Sage, "Why is it that the Jewish people have so many different ways to say our prayers to G-d? The Hassidim sing and clap, the Europeans pray in the Ashkenazi style and the Middle Eastern peoples pray in the Sephardic manner. Wouldn't it serve G-d better if we all prayed in the same way?"
The Rabbi patiently replied, "You should actually be asking the Czar of Russia this question. Why is it that the Czar has so many different types of soldiers in his armies-- infantry, cavalry, sailors and air force? Wouldn't it be better and more efficient to have just one type of soldier in the Czar's troops? Wouldn't it be more efficient and less troublesome to have one kind of uniform and the same equipment for all of your servicemen?"
The proposal is, of course preposterous. Each type of soldier serves a different purpose and can accomplish what the other cannot in order to bring success to the Czar. Each branch of service needs its own special equipment. The main thing is that at the end of the day victory is secured.
As a people, our job is to serve G-d by revealing His desire for the ethical and purposeful performance of human endeavors. Our army is fighting against the forces of evil, dishonesty and immorality. Each person was given different "weapons" with which to perform his or her role in the "General's" strategy for ultimate victory. Each of us has a job to do which is different than the others. We must never lose sight of the fact that all of us are on the same team, the same army, serving the same G-d with the same purpose.
As the Jewish people face crisis and siege in our Holy Land and as Jews around the world face the enemy in his many guises we must all do our best to support each other and do our part in the battle against spiritual holocaust and physical annihilation.
We are one team.
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