Do Not Separate Yourself from the Community

הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר: אַל תִּפְרֹשׁ מִן הַצִּבּוּר.

Hillel says: Do not separate yourself from the community.

  1. What is Hillel suggesting?
  2. What is "community"? Who defines community?
  3. What are the benefits of belonging to a community? What are the sacrifices of belonging to a community?
  4. What might Hillel's advice say about the role of interpersonal relationships?
  5. What is "the" community? Is it all Jews? A subset of Jews? All people?
  6. Is there even such a thing as "the" Jewish community? Who is part of it? Who is not? Who determines these boundaries in the first place?
  7. What constitutes "separating"? Why is it ill advised?
  8. What defines the Jewish people? Nationality? Ethnicity? Ethical behavior Religious commitments? Shared norms and values? Food? Shared history?
  9. What are some times when the Jewish community has been cohesive? What makes those times unique?
  10. What happens when a tzibbur holds a set of beliefs and assumption that we no longer hold?

(ד) אל תפרוש מן הציבור אלא השתתף בצרתם. שכל הפורש מן הציבור אינו רואה בנחמת הציבור [תענית י''א ע''א]:

(4) "Do not separate yourself from the congregation": but rather share in their troubles. As anyone who separates from the congregation will not see the congregation consoled (Taanit 11a).

...אמר אל תפרוש מן הצבור כי הצבור שהם הכלל הם עומדים כמו שהתבאר כי אל הצבור יש קיום יותר, ולפיכך הפורש מן הצבור פורש מן הדבר שיש לו קיום ביותר. ועוד כי הכלל הוא הכל, ויש בהם כח הכל, ולפיכך הפורש מן הצבור פורש מהכל והוא מבחוץ, ואם הוא מבחוץ להבל נחשב דבר זה שיצא מן הכלל. ודבר זה מבואר בדברי חכמים שמנו הפורשים מדרכי הצבור בכלל מינים ואפיקורסים שכופרים בתורה ובתחיית המתים כדאיתא במסכת ראש השנה (י"ז, א') ....

וכן מי שפורש מן דרכי צבור הוא יוצא מן הכלל.ואמר כי הכלל הוא עיקר לא היחיד הפרטי שהיחיד הוא בעל שינוי ואלו הכללים עומדים כמו שהתבאר, כי כח הכללי עומד בלא שינוי.

Hillel says "Do not separate yourself from the community" because they are the society/total, they endure, as was explained that the community has more existence, and therefore the one who separates from the community separates from something that has the most existence. Furthermore society is everything, and they have the power of everything, and therefore one who separates from the community separates themselves from everything, and they are outside. If that one is outside they are considered for for naught because they left society. This matter is explained in the words of the Rabbis, who count those who separate themselves from the community with heretics, and epikoruses, who deny the Torah, and Revival of the Dead, as it says in Masekhet Rosh Hashanah (17a)...Thus the one who separates from the ways of the community leave society. And Hillel says that society is the main thing and not the private individual, for the individual is dynamic/changing, and these societies endure, as has been explained, for societal power endures without change.

Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, Orot

The relationship between the Jewish people and its individual members is different than the relationship between any other national group and its members. All other national groups only bestow upon their individual members the external aspect of their essence (a title such as American). But the essence itself each person draws from the all-inclusive soul, from the soul of God, without the intermediation of the group... This is not the case regarding Israel. The soul of the individuals is drawn from ... the community, the community bestowing a soul upon the individuals. One who considers severing himself from the people must sever his soul from the source of its vitality. Therefore each individual Jew is greatly in need of the community. He will always offer his life so that he should not be torn from the people, because his soul and self-perfection require that of him. (p. 144)

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