We can make the difference.
Until the destruction of Jerusalem's holy Temple nearly 2000 years ago, Hakhel was the single most
inclusive gathering of the Jewish people – uniting adults and children, scholars and lay
Everyone was equally obligated and played an equal role in the gathering; no one was more or less important. The spiritual energy was created by the very fact of this singular act of unity.
Today it has become clear that teamwork inspires us to greater accomplishment; that "in unity there is strength."
We see it everywhere – in research labs, in exercise classes, in weight loss groups. When people come together with a single objective, the results are far better.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The power of group dynamics was defined in the Torah over 3000 years ago, and has served as the engine of Jewish survival and spiritual growth ever since. Judaism is not a religion of hermits and ascetics living in isolation. The faith of the Torah is one of community and interdependence.
The year of "Hakhel" follows the Sabbatical year when all the fields in Israel would lay fallow.
The Sabbatical year allowed the Jewish people to focus on spiritual matters without being distracted by mundane activity.
This year of spiritual growth was a preparation for the uplifting experience of Hakhel – when every Jewish man, woman and child gathered in the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem to hear select portions of the Torah read by the king.
The energy at this gathering replicated the
experience of the Jewish nation as we stood at Mount Sinai to receive G-d's Torah.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe revived the concept of Hakhel, urging Jews everywhere to gather in groups small and large in order to foster greater unity, and spur momentum for learning Torah, observing the mitzvot and giving charity.
The current Jewish year 5762 (2001/02) is once again a year of Hakhel, as it follows the Sabbatical year 5761.
Following the horror of September 11th, we are all in the process of taking stock of our lives and reordering our priorities.
Right now, Hakhel activities provide an extraordinary opportunity for Jewish people to gather together to re-charge their spirituality and draw light into the world. Hakhel activities can range from organized synagogue gatherings of Torah study or projects of charity and kindness to others, to small dinners of family and friends.
Our Hakhel activities reaffirm our sense of community, recognize and appreciate the importance of others, and – above all – reach new spiritual heights through the dynamic of community action.
The Rebbe reminded us time and again that we are the generation of the Redemption which will witness the arrival of Moshiach and the perfection of the world. Our actions can make the difference. Everyone can take the initiative by turning an ordinary gathering – a birthday party, a dinner gathering, a business meeting – into a Hakhel event. All it takes is a word of Torah, a moment of reflection, a shared prayer for the healing of our world.
The need for Jewish unity was never greater.