The Torah says: לֹא תִתְגֹּדְדוּ (You should not cut yourselves). The gemora uses this pasuk to tell us that we should not, when together, become splintered groups—agudos agudos. I once heard a question, as to whether there is a connection between the simple pshat, referring to distorting one’s body and the gemora’s explanation of splintering into smaller groups. It seems that the answer is found in the beginning of the pasuk, which says that we are the children of Hashem. By the fact that Hashem is our Father, that makes us His children, and we are all one family group. Therefore we should understand that all that Hashem, our Father, does for us is for our ultimate good.

Defacing our body shows that we do not understand we are bonim (children). If we did, we would realize our father gave us what is best for us and not destroy the unit, called the human body. The same is true in regards to klal Yisrael in general. Just as in a family there could be tall children and short children, etc., the family is still a cohesive unit.

When there is divisiveness amongst the children, the family unit is broken and the group of children can no longer be referred to as a unit. Likewise when the different parts of Klal Yisrael, who should be forming one entity, splinter into separate clusters, they too are distorting the beauty of the body of Klal Yisrael, thus losing the name ‘bonim’.

This is all within one family. However, when looking at other families (a different aguda), we need to realize that not every family has to be the same. When we see people that seem different from us and we think that they are ‘off’ just because they don’t act or think like us (and their behavior might even be incongruous with our aguda), nevertheless as long as the group is following the Torah—as sanctioned by the gedolei Yisrael—it may be valid.

Hashem makes no mistakes! If you cannot see the beauty of the other groups that Hashem has created, the problem may not be with the creation, but might be with your perception. Just as we understand splintering a group is a mutilation, so too forcing uniformity is a distortion of the essence of different groups.

As vacation comes to a close, and many of us have seen the grandeur of the outside world, let us appreciate the differences, while still appreciating that our home is our place to be.