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Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg Ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the Sefer, Fascinating Insights: Torah Perspectives On Unique Topics. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.


The Gemara[1] tells us that we Jews are called אדם. Why are only we referred to as אדם?


In the process of performing an act of bravery which saved many lives during a terrorist attack on America, a police officer named James was killed. In an effort to raise money for the deceased officer’s family, an appeal was broadcast all over America. After the extensive fundraising campaign, a total of $5,000 was collected. In another episode that occurred the very same week, there was an American Jew, Yosef, sitting on an Elal flight next to an Israeli man, Eliyahu, who was traveling from Israel with his son to America. When asked why he was traveling to the United States, Eliyahu related that his son was critically ill and in need of an urgent operation. Yosef inquired further and realized Eliyahu didn’t have health insurance, thus not having the money for this $100,000 operation. Eliyahu told Yosef that although he didn’t have the money to pay for it, he had no choice but to follow through with the operation since his son was so ill. Eliyahu said that his plan was to reach out to different organizations in America. Upon hearing Eliyahu’s story, Yosef walked up and down the aisles on the plane collecting money for Eliyahu. Yosef didn’t return to his seat until he came back with $100,000 (some in cash and some in checks).


In December 2017, there was a non-Jewish American that was released from prison after spending 30 years there for crimes he didn’t commit. Who was there to greet him? Naturally, not too many people. His mother, his attorney, and some family members. Just a few hours after this man’s release, Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin was being released in a small town in upstate New York. There were people that never met him from Bloomingburg, to greet him and sing. And as soon as Jews heard the good news, Jews of all ages, in all Jewish communities, all over the Globe from the US east to west coast, from Europe to Israel and anywhere in between, from Chasidish to Litvish, to Modern Orthodox, all took to the streets and to Shuls to dance and to thank Hashem for this. All this to partake in this great Simcha of a man they never met, and perhaps never will meet. Additionally, many of the people weren’t even intimately familiar with the “Rubashkin” case. Yet the unity was palpable, as Jews cried tears of joy and sang and danced.


Of the various ways to say “man” (אישגבר, אנוש) only אדם doesn’t have a plural form (אנשים, גברים). This is because we are one entity. When something happens to a Jew in one place, a Jew in another place feels it. That is a unique unity that is only by the Jewish people. This also explains why the word נפשות (plural) is used to refer to the non-Jews in contrast to us, Jews, who are called נפש (singular).[2] The singular term signifies unity.

[1] Yevamos 61a.

[2] Breishis 46:26, Rash

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