There are places around the world which are known not only as destinations, but are synonymous with industries or cultures as well. Such a city or street may invoke what the city or street stands for, even more than the geographic location itself.

Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomenon is Wall Street. Wall Street is not just a street where America's finance industry is based, but is synonymous with the industry itself.

Another street in New York that, in the past at least, had a similar connotation is Madison Avenue. It was, and is somewhat still, synonymous with the advertising industry.

Everything in life can serve as a lesson for us to grow, so let's zoom in on the avenue between Park and 5th. Perhaps it can teach us something too!

Advertising is a powerful tool, but one that can sometimes be seen as a bit shallow. It is, at the end of the day, the art of taking anything under the sun and portraying it in a way that plays on people's desires, wants and dreams. It isn't for naught that companies spend tremendously on advertising.

What is the Jewish take on advertising? Is it something that is positive or negative, empty or fulfilling? Is it a necessary evil, or something that - when used correctly - can accomplish what little else can?

On an individual, personal level, advertising represents what we talk about - what we share with others via our power of speech.

In an interesting twist, when G‑d famously tells Moses (in this week's Torah portion) to instruct Pharaoh to 'let my people' go, Moses was nervous that the Jewish people weren't ready to be redeemed from their slavery in Egypt.

Why? Were they emotionally or intellectually unfit for freedom, or were their deeds subpar? It wasn't so. On the contrary. In these fields they excelled, especially given the dismal circumstances in which they found themselves.

But Moses had overheard several individual Jews speaking negatively about each other, and was nervous that the habit would hinder their ability to be freed from slavery. Moses essentially told G‑d that although the Jewish Wall St, Hollywood and Vegas were humming along, all was not yet well on Madison Ave - in the Jewish 'advertising industry'. And until that changed, he felt the Jews could not reach their full potential.

But why? Isn't it most crucial to be internally good, have positive thoughts and be spiritually aligned? Obviously speaking negatively about others is no good, but why did Moses make that a clincher of Jewish identity?

It isn't natural for a person to completely connect with another. While acts of kindness may sometimes come naturally, it is exceedingly difficult to connect with others up to the point where we feel like one unit. When we do unite together as one however, it creates something extremely powerful.

Where does such beautiful unity form? On Madison Avenue - from the way we speak about each other.

We may be filled with spirituality, positive thoughts and positive emotions, but we're still separated from each other. The spirituality and positive energy within us doesn't necessarily unite us as one. That happens when we speak kindly of each other.

This is why Moses was nervous. Madison Ave, what we 'advertise' and say about each other, brings an unparalleled unity to our people. It's what makes us one. Without it there may be many extraordinary, individual Jews, but no Jewish people to speak of.

So yes, Madison Avenue may sometimes be empty or negative. Buts it's also the place where the strongest positivity and unity can be created.

Rabbi Avrohom