Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Judaism Made Simple

A few posts ago I mentioned that if I was to summarize Judaism with a few lines from the Torah, I'd pick these:

Genesis Chapter 12 בְּרֵאשִׁית א
א  וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-אַבְרָם, לֶךְ-לְךָ מֵאַרְצְךָ וּמִמּוֹלַדְתְּךָ וּמִבֵּית אָבִיךָ, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר אַרְאֶךָּ.1 Now the LORD said unto Abram: 'Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee.
ב  וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ, לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל, וַאֲבָרֶכְךָ, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ; וֶהְיֵה, בְּרָכָה.2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing.
ג  וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר; וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ, כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה.3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'
Yes, that's the gist of it.  The first line is amazingly full of meaning.
 Now the LORD said-This is not a human invented religion.
'Get thee out of thy country- You must change locations; you can't completely follow Judaism anyplace you wish.
from thy kindred/homeland/culture- They are the false ones.  It's not enough just to move.  You must change your way of doing things.  Don't demand/expect Israel to be America.
from thy father's house- My demands override your father's.  Your father should also live according to my rules, the mitzvot. 
unto the land that I will show thee.- There is only one Land you should live in.

And when we obey G-d's commands, He will make us a great nation and bless us.

I'll never forget how alone the State of Israel was in the spring of 1967.  At the time, no country or foreign leader claimed to be our friend and ally.  It was just like in 1948; they were expecting us to be defeated.  And just like in 1948, we were miraculously victorious.  Our only ally was the most important one, the One Who is all powerful and able to make the few defeat the many.  Yes, I'm referring to G-d.

Unfortunately in a sense, this great victory in the 1967 Yom Kippur War made the State of Israel more internationally popular and and it also made many  Israelis believe the praise being heaped on it.  Instead of growing closer to G-d, Israeli leaders took credit for the victory and thanked Tzahal, the IDF Israeli army.

And then in 1973, we were given another chance to prove ourselves.  We failed.  We believed the politicians and not the facts on the ground. All of the signs of impending war were explained away by our "experts" and foreign friends.  The Yom Kippur War was the worst one yet.  We were close to defeat, but instead of fighting to destroy the enemy and praying to G-d, the Israeli Government begged the Americans for assistance.  The American Government didn't want us to destroy Egypt and Syria, so they controlled the outcome to a "safe standstill." 

 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; - Those three countries involved in the 1973 Yom Kippur War are all in forms of crises today, Syria, Egypt and the United States.  G-d has been giving us more and more chances to repent.  I guess that G-d doesn't want us to start all over again. We had been exiled for two thousand years, and the State of Israel is a great success in many ways.  We do have the potential for the greatness G-d created us for.  I didn't end the previous sentence with "G-d willing," because I believe that the impetus of the Redemption will be through our free will and not G-d's maneuvering

May we see our beautiful Land built up and full of Jews who observe the Mitzvot according to G-d's instructions.


Anonymous said...

my rabbi told me: repent means you are leaving the wrong path, regretting that you ever took that turn in your life. (i think this means more for us, non jews).
Teshuva means 'return' which implies that you are not leaving something, you are coming back to something. Return is not just going away from bad behaviour, its going back to your true self, your Divine Soul. its not just damage control, it is returning to the essence that was always pure, it is returning to G-d.
every jew, whose mother is jewish and every sincere convert, will return to their roots and be saved. Hashem will bring this about. everything thats happening around us is anti torah and anti jew. and this is more significant in our parts of the world. i have stopped hoping. i only trust all the blessings and promises made to israel will happen. and in israel's merits may the rest of our world's sins be forgiven. rebbe menachem schneerson wrote: Trust means you have not a shade of doubt He will deliver. No matter what. The heavens above mirror the earth below. Trust in Him and He will fulfill your trust.
batya, please dont think i am advising any jew on faith, because its we gentiles that learn from the jewish people on G-d and faith. one of the most important things i learnt from the jews is that one never gives up. a person was asked what proof is there that G-d exists. he replied: the jewish people.
there are many ups and downs before redemption. even the greatest of sages said they did not want to be born in the period before mosiach comes. thats how difficult it would be. so i humbly feel Hashem will also judge even more compassionately, as according to the periods of times we live.

Batya said...

Teshuva, repentance is not just extreme change in direction; it's also a fine-tuning. None of us are perfect.