Thursday, June 30, 2016


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


A student of Yeshivas Shor Yashuv in Far Rockaway once missed shachris during two consecutive mornings. Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld zt’l, the venerable Rosh Yeshiva, approached the student and quipped that he missed him. The student proceeded to lie about his whereabouts. Rabbi Freifeld did not respond and the conversation ended there.
Six months later (!) Rabbi Freifeld approached the student, “Do you remember the conversation we had about missing shachris six months ago?” The student nodded. “And do you remember that at the time you said something untrue?” The student nodded again. The room was silent for a long moment before the student asked, “Why did Rebbe wait so long to say anything about that?” Rabbi Freifeld brilliantly replied, “Six months ago you had not yet grown ears. Now you have ears.”[1] 

When the Torah commences its narrative about the debacle of the spies it opens with G-d’s words to Moshe, "שלח לך - send for yourself[2]. Rashi explains that Moshe was instructed to send out the spies "for your own sake". In other words, G-d told Moshe that the spies were not necessary, and no good would come out of sending them.
Even if the nation had aggressively demanded that spies be sent, G-d could have made it clear to Moshe that it was an imprudent idea. If G-d knew the disastrous result of the spies’ mission why did He allow Moshe to proceed with it?
Rabbi Mottel Katz zt’l[3] explained that the nation was not on the spiritual level to hear such a response. Even if G-d would have emphatically told them that it was a bad idea they would not have accepted it. They would have countered that it is imperative for any nation to gather as much intelligence as possible before embarking on a mission of conquest and there was no reason they should be any different. G-d knew that Moshe’s efforts to dissuade them would be futile.
Rabbi Katz noted that sometimes educating requires 'not educating'. In other words, at times a parent or teacher must NOT react. Even though the situation really warrants a comment or reaction, sometimes it will be counter-productive to react.
The gemara expresses this idea:[4] "Just as it is a mitzvah to say something (rebuke) which will be heard and accepted, so too it is a mitzvah to not say something which will not be heard and accepted".
Under the circumstances, there was no recourse but to concede to the nation’s demand, despite the fact that they were bound for disaster. They had to learn the lesson on their own and Moshe could not save them from themselves.[5]

This concept is invaluable in education. Many parents get caught up in the “Parenting Paradox”. They feel that if they tell, show, and direct their children constantly their children will listen and improve.
We would like our children to learn life's lessons easily, and we desperately want to protect our children from the challenges and frustrations of life. So we instruct our children to listen to our sagacious advice based on our experience. We hope that in doing so we will spare them the need to learn the lessons we were forced to learn the hard way.
Our motives are undoubtedly noble. They reflect the very reason we became parents, to guide our children toward a happy and fulfilling life. But somewhere along this path we became stuck in the paradox – “if I don't help you how will you ever learn?” On so many occasions when we offer to help things get worse, not better.
One of the most important ideas of education is to train ourselves to bite our tongue and watch and listen. It can be extremely frustrating to keep quiet, especially when we know our advice can save untold aggravation. But the challenge of education is to realize that one learns best from his own mistakes and we have to give our children room to learn from their own decisions… and mistakes.
How much distress and disaster could have been averted if G-d would have told Moshe not to send the spies. But the young nation did not yet have the ears to hear that message. They had to make the mistake themselves and suffer the dire consequences of their decision.
The Mishna[6] states סייג לחכמה שתיקה" - a fence (protection) for wisdom is silence”. The Kotzker Rebbe once quipped that the ‘fence’ around wisdom is when one has nothing to say and therefore remains silent. Wisdom itself is when one has something to say and remains quiet anyway!
          Education is not merely about knowing what to say. More importantly, it’s about knowing when and if to say. It’s about knowing when it’s best to remain hidden away in the background, available when approached, but not rushing in unsolicited.

          “A mitzvah not to say what won’t be heard”
“Send for yourself”

[1] From the invaluable book, “Reb Shlomo” about the life and times of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld zt’l
[2] Bamidbar 13:2
[3] 1894-1964, Rosh Yeshiva of Telshe
[4] Yevamos 65b
[5] Heard from Rabbi Yissochor Frand
[6] Avos 3:13

Thursday, June 23, 2016


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


Michelangelo is renowned for being a great painter, particularly of the Sistine Chapel. The truth however, is that his true love was not painting, but in sculpting.
He was once asked how he creates such masterful sculptures out of slabs of stone. He is purported to have replied:
“In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it.”
In other words, when Michelangelo looked at a piece of marble, he was able to envision the statue inside the marble. The only thing left to do was to chisel away the excess marble which obscured the beautiful sculpture within. 

The Torah relates that Miriam contracted tzara’as after speaking loshon hara about Moshe to their brother, Aharon[1]. Rav Lazer Shach zt’l[2] noted that the Torah recounts the event in great detail, as it does when it relates the tragic saga of the spies. In fact, Chazal note that the Torah juxtaposes the account of the spies with that of Miriam to demonstrate that the spies did not pay heed to the lesson of Miriam’s punishment. The Torah’s lengthy account here is in contradistinction with many fundamental laws and prohibitions which are written concisely and learned exegetically from a mere allusion in the pausk.
Rav Shach explained that deriving Torah laws from pesukim does not leave much room for error. The law is the law! When discussing behaviors and middos (character traits) however, one’s personal inclinations play a significant role, and there is much greater proclivity for misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
For example, if the Torah would be more concise in its account of Miriam’s loshon hara, one could argue that the severity of her sin was because she spoke negatively against the supreme Torah authority. That interpretation would negate the Torah’s intention of demonstrating to us the severity of any loshon hara. Similarly, if the Torah minced words about Korach’s rebellion, one could argue that its severity was because he challenged the great Moshe Rabbeinu, and thus fail to realize the Torah’s message about the detriment of any dispute.
As a general rule, the Torah is far more explicit and detailed when it discusses the ramifications of negative middos than it is about its vital laws. That is because we fail to realize how damaging negative character traits are, and how much we have to invest in order to rectify them.

In parshas Vayetzei[3] the Torah relates that Reuven picked dudaim[4] for his mother Leah. Rashi comments that the Torah states that this event happened during the time of the harvest, a time of year when farmers generally don’t mind if a passerby snatches a few stalks. Yet Reuven was careful to avoid any possibility of stealing, by exerting himself to find dudaim that were ownerless.
Why is it considered so virtuous that Reuven didn’t steal; wouldn’t we expect nothing less from someone of Reuven’s moral caliber?
Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt’l explained that the Torah is not praising the fact that Reuven did not steal. Rather, the Torah is noting that Reuven recognized that despite how great he was, he still had to be wary of his proclivity towards sin. Reuven’s greatness was that, despite his personal integrity, or perhaps because of it, he was vigilant not to fall under the influence of his wily evil inclination.
The Torah is teaching us that every person has to constantly work on himself and can never feel that he is above sin. In the words of Shlomo Hamelech[5], “And who can say my heart is meritorious; I have purified myself from my iniquities?”
Every soul is created and sent to this world imperfect. It is incumbent upon us to strive for perfection and dedicate our lives to capitalizing on our strengths and seeking to rectify and channel our deficiencies.
The greatest parents and educators are able to recognize the magnificent sculpture that resides within the souls of their children and students. Then they invest their efforts to guide their children to bring out their innate greatness by chiseling away at their imperfections. However, even more important is for us to be able to recognize the greatness that resides within ourselves and to believe in our own virtues.
The converse is sadly also true. Those who only see their flaws and deficiencies see only internal ugliness. They therefore spend their lives trying to mask their essence, further obscuring them from appreciating themselves for who they are.

The truth is that Michelangelo is not the originator of the idea of chiseling out greatness by revealing the already present internal greatness. When Hashem instructed Moshe about the formation of the Menorah, He commanded Moshe to make the Menorah “miksha” – hammered out from one piece of gold[6].    
The Torah commands two other vessels to be made “miksha” chiseled out of one chunk of its material – the trumpets used to summon the nation[7], and the keruvim which were placed above the Aron[8]. The gemara relates that the keruvim had the faces of children[9]. The symbolism of these vessels needing to be created “miksha” is poignant: For a leader to unite his charges, and for an educator to build up his children, he needs to know the secret of “miksha”, i.e. how to hammer out the excesses in order to reveal latent internal greatness.  

This week I went to be menachem avel our wonderful summer neighbor, Rabbi Hersh Kasirer who was sitting shiva for his late father, Reb Moshe Kasirer z’l - a legendary mechanech in Queens, NY.
Rabbi Kasirer recounted that his father survived the Nazi camps and was in the Displaced Persons camps when the war ended. There he was heavily influenced by Rav Gershon Libman[10], who was hismelf a student and adherent of the Narvadok Yeshiva.
The approach of Narvadok was unique, stressing the total negation of ego and the physical world. Through those efforts one strove to achieve complete and total focus on his soul and intellect side.
It is well-known that talmidim of Novardok participated in deliberately embarrassing behavior, such as wearing old patched clothing, or going to a shop and asking for a product not sold there, such as screws in a bakery. The common understanding is that this was done to bring out feelings of lowliness in order to negate any feelings of conceit and hubris.
Rabbi Kasirer related that the common conception must be a misnomer. His father and his friends had just survived Nazi brutality and utter degradation. What more ‘shattering of the ego” could be necessary in a DP camp?
Rather it seems that the purpose of these exercises was to promote the opposite feeling. It was to inculcate within the students emotional freedom from the shackles of public approval. They discovered that fear of embarrassment is a terrible hindrance towards the development of one’s true inner self. By training themselves to be laughed at by others, they strengthened their resolve to follow their conscience and to pursue what they knew was correct, completely ignoring what others said or did.[11] This was in fact part of what gave his father the resolve to forge on; the feeling that nothing the Nazis could say or do could have any effect on the greatness within himself.

Every person is created with greatness. It’s our job to unearth that greatness and utilize it for the benefit of others.

“Miriam and Aharon spoke about Moshe…”
“ To tell you the praise of the shevotim…”

[1] Bamidbar 12:1
[2] Meirosh Amanah
[3] Bereishis 30:14
[4] A certain type of flower known to help a woman be more fertile
[5] Mishlei 20:9
[6] Bamidbar 8:4
[7] Also in Parshas Beha’aloscha – Bamidbar 10:2
[8] Shemos 25:18; the “Voice of G-d” resounded from between the two Keruvim, as stated in the last pasuk of Parshas Naso (Bamidbar 7:89)
[9] Chagiga 13b
[10] author of Degel Hamussar
[11] I have heard this same explanation of the Norvadok approach more than once. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


On June 1, 1925, a young baseball player named Lou Gehrig was sent to pinch hit for shortstop Paul "Pee Wee" Wanninger. The next day, June 2, Yankee manager Miller Huggins started Gehrig in place of regular first baseman Wally Pipp. Pipp was in a slump, as were the Yankees as a team, so Huggins made several lineup changes to boost their performance. For the next fourteen seasons Gehrig did not miss a game.
In 1939 Gehrig felt himself rapidly weakening. He was suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis1, the disease that would take his life. On May 2, 1939 Gehrig told manager Joe McCarthy to take him out of the lineup. Incredibly, Gehrig, ‘the Iron Horse’ had played in 2,130 consecutive games.
On July 4, 1939 the Yankees proclaimed ‘Lou Gehrig day’ at Yankees Stadium. Special presentations and speeches were presented in honor of the dying slugger. The New York Times said it was "perhaps as colorful and dramatic a pageant as ever was enacted on a baseball field [as] 61,808 fans thundered a hail and farewell."
But undoubtedly the most memorable part of the day was Gehrig’s own speech to the overflowing crowd. In a quivering yet emphatic voice his words reverberated throughout the stadium: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans. Look at these grand men. Which of you wouldn't consider it the highlight of his career just to associate with them for even one day?
“... So I close in saying that I may have had a tough break, but I have an awful lot to live for.”

Throughout their forty years in the desert, the Jewish nation had to be prepared to travel at a moment’s notice. At any time the Divine Clouds could suddenly rise and proceed further into the desert. As soon as that occurred the entire nation had to immediately dismantle their camps, gather their children and belongings, and begin to travel in perfect formation along with their tribe.
The Levites had the added responsibility of dismantling the holy Mishkan and preparing it for travel. The tribal leaders donated wagons and oxen for the Mishkan which Moshe apportioned to two of the Levite families – Gershon and Merori - to use for its transportation. The third Levite family however – the prestigious family of Kehas – were not given any wagons. The Torah explains2: “And to the sons of Kehas he did not give; since the sacred service was upon them, they carried it upon the shoulder.” Being that they were responsible for the Holy Ark and the other holiest vessels it was not proper for those vessels to be placed in wagons. Rather, they were carried directly upon their shoulders. 
After the Jewish Nation had settled in Eretz Yisroel, for a few hundred years during the time of Eli the High Priest, the Holy Ark was captured by the Philistines. The Philistines held it for a short time, and then sent it back to Eretz Yisroel. For many years after its return the Holy Ark remained in Kiryas Yearim in the home of a man named Avinadav3.
When King David conquered Jerusalem he was determined to bring the Ark home. He commissioned that it be transported in a wagon pulled by oxen. Uzzah, the son of Avinadav walked alongside the wagon. At one point, when the Ark appeared to be falling Uzzah jumped in to straighten it. It was deemed an affront for him to even entertain the notion that the Ark could fall because “the Ark carried those who (appeared to) carry it”. Because of that act Uzzah was immediately killed.
The gemara4 asks what wrong King David had committed that he was indirectly responsible for Uzzah’s death. The gemara explains that it was retribution for the words King David said5, "Your statutes were music to me in the house of pilgrimage." It was unbefitting for King David to refer to the words of Torah as a song. As punishment he was made to forget a law blatantly recorded in the Torah. The verse says that the Children of Kehas were not given wagons because they carried the Ark on their shoulders. Yet King David placed the Holy Ark on a wagon, instead of having it carried upon Uzzah’s shoulders.
Rabbi Yehonasan Eibeshitz zt’l explains that the prohibition to place the Holy Ark in a wagon symbolizes that Torah must be studied with diligence and toil. One must exert himself physically and emotionally to attain a level of Torah proficiency. He cannot ‘set it down comfortably before him as he walks leisurely’. Rather, he must ‘carry it upon his shoulders’, bearing its full weight with devotion and love.
When David compared Torah to music, he unwittingly implied that adherence to Torah is effortless and can be mastered with nonchalance, much as one sings an enjoyable song6. To demonstrate David’s fallacy, G-d caused him to forget the law which symbolizes the opposite of his words. Torah requires effort because one can easily forget it and be the cause of serious transgression, as David forgot a simple law.
Rav Lazer Shach zt’l asked7 that if, in fact, David erred when he referred to Torah as music, why is that verse included in the book of Tehillim?
Rav Shach explained that comparing Torah to music/song reflects two different ideas: First, it suggests that observing G-d’s mitzvos are as simple and natural as melodious music. That is simply not true, as it is often challenging to perform mitzvos, and there are often many impediments that one must contend with.
Second, the spiritual pleasure and ultimate reward one experiences through Torah study is so great that no earthly pleasure can measure against it. One who engages in deep sincere Torah study enjoys a feeling of fulfillment and joy that cannot be expressed in words.
It is the second meaning that we refer to when we repeat King David’s words in Tehillim. True, it is not always easy to keep the Torah. However, one who does so realizes that Torah is like a song which bursts forth from within the deepest recesses of his soul, like a harmonious ensemble.
Rav Shach then relates that, as a young boy, he was very poor. He was sent to the renowned Slutzker Yeshiva where he had no food, no drink, and no clothes. He had only Torah.
When the First World War broke out, the Jews of Lithuania were exiled and dispersed throughout Europe, and the students of the yeshiva were sent home. Rabbi Shach however, had no idea where his parents were and therefore had nowhere to go. He made the town shul his home, sleeping on the benches and living off whatever food he could solicit. He only had one change of clothes, which he washed every Friday on the roof, and then waited for them to dry. Few people noticed him or cared much for him and his hair grew long. This went on for a number of years until the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Isser Zalmen Meltzer, zt’l welcomed him into his home.
Rav Shach then concludes, "If I were to write down all the agony and misery that has been my lot throughout my life, I would fill volumes that would be much thicker than my Avi Ezri. I can honestly say that I never had a good day in my life! I never had any pleasure in this world. ובכל זאת מיום עמדי על דעתי עד היום אני הבן אדם הכי מאושר בעולם  Yet, despite everything, from the day I began to understand things until today, I am (consider myself) the luckiest man on the face of the earth. There has never been a moment in my life that I have not been filled with joy. Why? Because I learn Torah!"
Every person has goals and aspirations, and those aspirations and hopes largely define who he is and what is important to him. Every person has a different response to the question of ‘Who is a lucky person?’ and what would it take for one to ‘consider himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth’? It all depends on his value system and priorities.
One man considered himself the luckiest man on earth because he was an all-star player with a legendary sports franchise, and gained tremendous fame and acclaim throughout his career. Another man stated that he did not have ‘a good day in his life’ and yet he too considered himself the luckiest man in the world, because he was bound with the eternal meaning of life and enjoyed the greatest fulfillment possible. Interestingly enough, their weltanschauung could not have been more diverse and they would never have traded places. 
The Yom Tov of Shavuos is a relatively short holiday. The gemara8 states that on Shavuos one is obligated to eat a lavish meal and enjoy the day physically to demonstrate that the Torah enriches our physical lives too.
It is a one day9 celebration of what is truly important to us and why we - the eternal people – are truly the luckiest people on the face of the earth. 

“Your statutes were music to me”
“They carried it upon the shoulder”

1 Later to be known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s disease’
2 7:9
3 See Shmuel I 7:1
4 Sotah 35a
5 Tehillim 119:54
6 Although this was surely not King David’s intent he was held accountable for its implication. Great personalities are held accountable with extreme precision.
7 In his preface to his magnum opus, Avi Ezri on the Rambam
8 Pesachim 68a
9 According to the Torah it is only a one day holiday, and that is how it is observed in Eretz Yisroel; outside of Eretz Yisroel we observe an extra day, like all major holidays

Thursday, June 9, 2016


Rabbi Doniel Staum, LMSW
Rabbi, Kehillat New Hempstead
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – ASHAR
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor


A Paratrooper's Story
By Dr. Moshe Amirav
On Monday, the 5th of June 1967, I arrived in Western Jerusalem as a soldier in a paratrooper brigade.  All through that night, we advanced from house to house under heavy fire.  The battalion advanced to the east; I knew that it was in the direction of the Old City and the goal was clear: the Western Wall.  At the end of that night, which was the longest in my life, we arrived in the area near the Rockefeller Museum.  I climbed up onto the roof of the adjacent building and in dawn's first light I was able to see – Jerusalem.
A Jordanian shell exploded on the roof of the building.  As a result of the blast, I flew up in the air.  I felt a piece of shrapnel ripping my face and it felt as though it was blowing up my head.  Immediately, my face bled and all I heard were screams of "Medic, Medic!"  Ofer, the medic, stopped the bleeding by bandaging me quickly and professionally.  He calmed me down by saying: "In a few minutes, a rescue jeep will get here and take you to the hospital."  I understood that for me, the war was over.  "But I have to get to the Kotel!" – I cried.  Ofer looked at me as though I'd lost my mind: "That's what interests you now, the Western Wall?!"
A few hours later, I was already at Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem.  I could hear the echo of shooting from the Old City.  The next morning, we listened to the broadcast of the Voice of Israel reporter, Raphael Amir: "At this moment, I am going down the stairs toward the Western Wall… I am touching the stones of the Western Wall…"  Sounds of gunfire could be heard in the background mixed with the elated cries of the soldiers and the sounds of shofar blowing.  I could not continue listening to the broadcast.  I got out of bed and told Motti, who was lying in the bed next to mine: "I am going to the Kotel!"
I smile now when I remember how I ran to the Kotel, holding Motti's hand since I could hardly see where to go.  We did not take our time – we ran quickly, past the Moghrabi Gate, pushing forward in a hurry.  Suddenly we stopped, thunderstruck.  Standing opposite us was the Western Wall: gray, huge, silent, and restrained.  I remembered feeling this awe-struck only once before, as a child, when my father brought me close to the Holy Ark.
Slowly, I began my approach to the Kotel, feeling like a shaliach tzibbur, a cantor praying for a congregation; representing my father – Herschel-Zvi of Jerusalem and Lithuania, representing Grandfather Moses and Grandfather Yisrael who were slaughtered in Punar, representing my teacher and rabbi Mourner of Zion Menachem Mendel and his entire family that was killed in Treblinka, representing the poet Uri Zvi Greenberg whose poems I knew by heart and had sent me here.
Someone near me made the "She'hechiyanu" blessing, but I could not answer "Amen".  I just put a hand on the stone and the tears that streamed from my eyes were part water and part prayers, tunes, and longing of generations of Mourners of Zion.
I came back to the hospital later that day to undergo surgery to remove the piece of shrapnel from my head.
On Shabbos afternoon, in the Mincha shemoneh esrei, we speak about the unity of Shabbos that will be realized in the future Messianic world. “Avrohom rejoices, Yitzchok exults, Yaakov and his sons rest upon it.” What is the meaning of these words? Why is it particularly Yaakov Avinu together with his sons who rest on Shabbos?
When the prophet extols the virtues of one who safeguards Shabbos properly he says[1], “Then you shall delight in G-d, and I shall mount you astride the heights of the world, and endow you with the heritage of your forefather Yaakov, for the Mouth of G-d has spoken.” Based on this verse the gemara[2] comments, “Whoever delights in the Shabbos is granted a boundless heritage.” The boundless heritage promised to one who delights in the Shabbos is the portion of our patriarch Yaakov. What is the connection?
We find that Klal Yisroel always maintained a circular formation in their encampments and residence. When they entered Eretz Yisroel and the land was divided amongst the tribes the Bais Hamikdash was in the heart of the land, surrounded by the city of Yerushalayim, which was surrounded by the tribes throughout Eretz Yisroel. 
Throughout their forty year sojourns in the desert they also maintained a unique encampment. At the beginning of Chumash Bamidbar, G-d instructed Moshe[3], “The Children of Israel shall encamp, each man by his banner according to the insignias of his fathers’ household, at a distance surrounding the Tent of the Meeting shall they encamp.” Three tribes camped in each of the four directions surrounding the center which included the Levites camp as well as the Mishkan.

The Medrash notes that when G-d commanded Moshe about the new formation of in the desert and that each tribe would have its own flag, Moshe was concerned that it would lead to dispute, as some tribes may not want to be placed where they were directed. G-d replied that the tribes would have no such qualms because they were already familiar with their positions. Their encampment in the desert was the same as how each tribe stood around the bed of Yaakov Avinu just prior to his passing when he instructed them how to escort his bier to Eretz Yisroel from Egypt for burial.

Moshe’s fears still seem founded. Why would the nation be willing to accept a formation based on a funeral of hundreds of years prior?
The Ateres Mordechai explains that it is relatively easy for people to be cordial and affable with each other when things are serene. However, when times become more challenging and tense people often become more aggressive and impatient with each other.  
Moshe feared that when the Jews were instructed to maintain a rigid formation in the desert they would counter that it was an impossibility. A desert is by definition vast and lawless and there cannot be normal and structured living in a desert. So how could they be expected to maintain such disciplined order in their encampments?
G-d replied that Moshe’s fears were baseless. Yaakov Avinu had ingrained in his children the ability to maintain their faith and composure even under the most trying circumstances. When each tribe was instructed where to stand, he was informed what his role was, and what he had to accomplish. The funeral of Yaakov was unquestionably a period of intense mourning and instability for the tribes. Yet they traveled together and accomplished their mission in unison.
The ability of a Jew to maintain his equanimity even in the most challenging situations dates back to Yaakov Avinu’s funeral procession when each tribe maintained their dignity despite the circumstances.

Rabbeinu Bachya writes that G-d’s throne is surrounded by four gatherings of angels on each side, as it were, to resemble Israel’s four formations surrounding the Mishkan.   
When Yaakov’s sons surrounded him in proper formation it was representative of the ‘secret of "אחד" (one)’. The word echad is composed of aleph (numerical value of one) and ches and daled (8 and 4) which combine to equal 12. Yaakov (the ‘one’ in the middle) surrounded by his twelve sons, represent the idea of "אחד"[4].

The Chofetz Chaim noted that the Mishkan always had to remain in the middle of the camp, much like the Tree of Life was in the middle of the Garden of Eden[5]. This is reflective of the Torah which must always remain our central focus. Every other component in our lives must surround the Torah and subjugate itself towards the dictates and laws of the Torah. The Torah must always remain the epicenter of our lives. 
The Chofetz Chaim adds that since our continued life in this world depends on the beating of our hearts which ensures the circulation of the blood the heart is in the center of our bodies. The source of life – physical and spiritual – always remains in the center.

When the tribes surrounded Yaakov it represented "אחד", the ultimate unity, for they all subjugated themselves toward their father, the righteous leader, in the center. When the Jewish People maintain their focus towards their national heart, they are truly a people who merit the accolade "אחד", a united, destiny-driven people.
Torah life entails a perpetual focus towards the center. That center is the heartbeat of our national existence, represented geographically by Yerushalayim, and spiritually by the Torah.
As long as the center point remains in focus, we can branch out and extend far beyond our borders. The person who proclaims Shabbos a delight is the one who is able to use all of the delicacies and pleasures of Shabbos to sanctify the holy day. Such a person has G-d in his heart and is thus able to ‘branch out’ into the pleasures of this world and not forfeit his inner sanctity. His heart and soul are ‘one’ just as the tribes were one surrounding the bed of their father Yaakov.
Therefore, one who proclaims Shabbos a delight merits the inheritance of Yaakov. G-d promised Yaakov[6], “You shall spread out powerfully westward, eastward, northward, and southward.” Because Yaakov personified unity of purpose and mission in his unyielding service to G-d he was blessed to spread out beyond his confines and borders.
On Shabbos afternoon during our prayers we speak of the ultimate level of Shabbos observance, i.e. the Shabbos of the future when all will recognize the ultimate truth: “You are One and Your Name is One and who is like Your Nation Yisroel, one nation in the land.” Klal Yisroel is one, united in heart and mission, because of their omnipresent awareness that the One G-d remains the central focus of their lives.
It is specifically “Yaakov and his sons” who rest on Shabbos[7] because the depiction of Yaakov surrounded by his sons is the symbolism of perfect unity.
Throughout their forty year sojourns in the desert Klal Yisroel camped in that same formation, reminiscent of the harmonious spirit which their forefathers possessed and instilled in them. When we entered the Promised Land we continued to live with that same pattern, surrounding the center of our national heart of Yerushalayim and the Bais Hamikdash.
Throughout the exile when we no longer have the physical structure of the Bais Hamikdash our hearts remained there. At the center and core of our nationhood is, above-all, our adherence to the Torah, and also our pining and yearning to return to Jerusalem and the physical centrality of our people.
The legendary words[8]הר הבית בידינו – The Temple Mount is in our hands” must be revised to, “הר הבית בלבינו – The Temple Mount is in our hearts.” 

“Surrounding the Tent of the Meeting shall they encamp.”
“Who is like Your Nation Yisroel, one nation in the land.”

[1] Yeshaya 58:14
[2] Shabbos 118a
[3] Bamidbar 2:2
[4] Idea from Rabbi Aharon Shechter shlita, Kuntrue Ma’amarei Chof Kislev, Ma’amar 11
[5] See Bereishis 2:9; Onkelos states clearly that it was ‘in the middle of the garden’.
[6] Bereishis 28:14
[7] The rest we refer to is not physical rest but spiritual relaxation. It is a day when we recharge our spiritual batteries, as it were, by reminding ourselves of our true purpose and focus of life.
[8] Announced by Colonel Motta Gur over the military radio in June 1967, during the six-day war when G-d allowed us to miraculously re-conquer Jerusalem from the Jordanians