In order to explain the difference between a People of Fate and a Nation of Destiny it is appropriate to deal with a different contrast — that between an Encampment and a Congregation. The Torah used both of these concepts with respect to Israel. “Make for yourself two silver trumpets of hammered work; and they shall be to summon the congregation and for causing the encampments to set forth” (Numbers 10:2, emphasis added).
Encampment and Congregation constitute two different sociological experiences, two separate groups that have nothing in common and do not support one another. An Encampment is created out of a desire for self-defense and thrives on fear. Congregation is fashioned out of longing for the realization of an exalted moral idea and thrives on love. In the Encampment, fate’s rule is unlimited, whereas destiny rules the Congregation. The Encampment represents a phase in the development of the nation’s history. The continued survival of a people is identified with the existence of the Congregation.
An Encampment, in its essence, is not a uniquely human phenomenon; one finds its traces in the animal kingdom as well. There, too, the encampment serves as a shield against outside danger. When fear of attack grips herds of cattle and sheep, they tumble down in a crazed frenzy from every green mountain and grassy place and run toward each other, lock horns, and butt their heads. Fear finds its instinctive expression in a common quest for protection through gathering together. The secret of individuals uniting into one camp in the face of peril is well known to the animal instinct.
In man’s world too, an Encampment is created solely from fear. When fateful, choiceless existence terrifies man, the individual grasps the inadequacy of his strength and aligns himself with others for purposes of selfdefense, in order to prevail over a common enemy. The establishment of an Encampment is a stratagem of warfare. Learn what the Torah has taught: “When you shall go out as an encampment against your enemy” (Deuteronomy 23:10, emphasis added). An Encampment is born out of the terror of destruction and loss, from the fear that fate is overwhelming. From the midst of the Encampment, the People arises. In the beginning, the Jews in Egypt were an Encampment. When they were freed by the Holy One, they rose to the level of a nation.
Indeed, the Congregation has a special place in the kingdom of man and in his mighty spirit. The Congregation is man’s characteristic creation, and his glorious glorious hovers over it. The Congregation is not created as a result of negative causes or out of fear of the fate that pursues man, who senses his own misery and feebleness, but rather as a result of positive impulses. Destiny is the foundation of the Congregation. A Congregation is a collection of individuals with a single past, a common future, shared aspirations, identical yearnings for a world that is totally good and pleasant, and a singular and harmonious destiny. The beginnings of the Congregation are embedded in the tradition of the people’s ancestors at the dawn of its existence. Its end is rooted in a common vision of the end of days. The people of the Congregation are witnesses19 to the events that have passed and to the miraculous future that has not yet arrived. A The Congregation encompasses not only those who are alive today but everyone who has lived and who will live from the dawn of humanity until the end of days. The dead who have passed on are still alive within the confines of the Congregation, and those destined to be born are already alive within its jurisdiction. A Congregation is a holy nation that does not fear fate and does not live against its will. It believes in its destiny and of its free will sanctifies itself for its realization. The Covenant of Egypt was made with a people that was born in the Encampment, the Covenant of Sinai was concluded with a holy people.