I have been reading a lot lately about the possibility that the Jewish people as they have been known for the past 3,000 years will not be the same, because of so many Jews intermarrying and not identifying with Judaism anymore. This thought is scary to a 14-year-old. So I am wondering – do you think the Jewish people are going to gradually melt down to a non-existent group?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
You are a very special person to be worried about the future of the Jewish people. I am also worried. When a Jew drifts away from Judaism, it is both a tragedy for the individual involved, and also a tragedy for the Jewish nation which loses that precious energy. The primary purpose of Aish.com is to help counteract this trend.
That relates to individuals. But I'm not worried that there won't be any Jewish people anymore, because God promises that the Jewish people will be eternal. As God told Abraham: "And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and your descendants after you throughout their generations, an eternal covenant, to be your God and the God of the descendants after you." (Genesis 17:7)
The phenomenon of Jewish survival is truly remarkable, and defies all sociological norms. The story is told of King Louis XIV asking the philosopher Pascal for some proof of a supernatural force in the world. Pascal answered, "The Jews, your majesty. The Jews."
The great civilizations throughout history – the Greeks, Persians, Babylonians and Romans – all exist today as only an archaeological relic. Yet the Jewish people – even in the face of incredible persecution, and exile to four corners of the world – thrive and flourish to this day.
What is the secret of Jewish survival?
Tolstoy wrote: "The Jew is the emblem of eternity. He whom neither slaughter nor torture of thousands of years could destroy. He whom neither fire nor sword nor inquisition was able to wipe off the face of the earth. He who was the first to produce the oracles of God. He who has been for so long the guardian of prophecy, and who transmitted it to the rest of the world – such a nation cannot be destroyed. The Jew is as everlasting as is eternity itself."
When God makes a promise, He keeps it! As we say at the Passover Seder: "In every generation they rise up to destroy us – but the Holy One Blessed be He saves us from their hand."
On some level, every human being seeks immortality. Some try to achieve it by erecting tall buildings; others by setting athletic records. But when all is said and done, only the Jewish people are eternal. In the synagogue service, we cite the verse from Proverbs 3:18: Torah “is a tree of life for those who grasp it.” So keep focused on the Torah – and you and your grandchildren will enjoy being part of the Jewish future.
(Biblical references: Leviticus 26:44-45; Isaiah 54:10, 54:17, and 59:21; Jeremiah 5:18-19, 31:34-35, and 46:27-28; Malachi 3:6.)